Denver Business Journal: Colorado Lacrosse Hype Not Over with DU's NCAA Win

Denver Business Journal: Colorado Lacrosse Hype Not Over with DU's NCAA Win

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If you thought the University of Denver’s men’s lacrosse team had the last word on the sport this summer with its national championship win May 25, think again.

More than 4,000 lacrosse-loving potential college recruits from 19 states will descend on Denver June 12-14 for the 10th annual Denver Shootout– a national recruiting tournament at Dicks’ Sporting Goods Park organized by Denver-based 3d Lacrosse which brings in 80 coaches from across the country, 35 from Division 1 schools.

At five years old, 3d Lacrosse — a small, but quickly growing company — packs a sizable economic punch to the city's summer economy. All told, about 12,000 players, parents and coaches will be in the city focused on lacrosse, which the company estimates to be about 1,900 rooms with the average estimated stay 2.5 nights, based on hotel blocks sold.

The Vail Shootout begins one day after Denver’s and many teens will attend both – meaning they are in the state for at least one week. The Vail Shootout is a national tournament for youth to show off in front of college recruiters.

“We know the economic impact has a long tail on it,” said Greg Waldbaum, 3d Lacrosse president and COO.

But that’s not why the company started. Sara and Greg

Ten years ago, then DU men’s lacrosse coach Jamie Munro and his wife Sara Munro thought Denver’s teens were getting the short end of the recruiting stick. Denver kids had to fly out east to the powerhouse schools if they wanted to be seen by any Division 1 coaches.

So he wondered: Why not bring the coaches out west?

The shootout was born. A dozen boys’ teams and a handful of coaches showed up that first year, said Sara Munro, 3d Lacrosse director of events.

“Now kids come from all over the west,” Munro said.

DU's NCAA win this month no doubt increases interest in the west as a place for coaches to find top talent. But 3d Lacrosse said the west has been building its reputation as a lacrosse field of talent. This year, the Denver Shootout adds a third day to include a meet the coaches night and organizers expect 80 coaches to pull up chairs on the sidelines and take notes on the talent.

“Denver has become a stop on the recruiting trail,” Waldbaum said.

Jamie Munro, founder and CEO of 3d Lacrosse, was DU’s men’s lacrosse coach from 1998 to 2009. Over the years, he became known for adopting elements of Canada’s box lacrosse – indoor play – and developed his own method.

Now, he shares that method with his 3d Lacrosse coaches – six who are former Division 1 college coaches – and boys and girls as young as 8 years old are being trained under his method.

“He just loves to coach and is always thinking about how he can improve,” Sara Munro said about her husband, who was traveling and unavailable for comment.

The payoff is the number of 3d Lacrosse-trained athletes who get recruited to play in college. In 2015 more than 50 3d Lacrosse-trained players signed with schools such as Colorado College, Notre Dame, Air Force and University of Virginia.

As more players get trained, more coaches want to see them, Waldbaum said. The company now hosts six national tournaments in six states. And it's added up to big revenue increases year over year. The company has seen revenue go from $1 million to nearly $11 million in five years. It now has 75 full-time employees and 950 contractors operating in 14 cities. And last year, Waldbaum and Munro bought a Denver manufacturing plant, Stylax, to make 3d Lacrosse uniforms for its 127 club teams.

“We built the company the old fashioned way, one customer at a time,” Waldbaum said.

As the sport continues to grow, so will 3d Lacrosse, Waldbaum said. By his estimation 3d Lacrosse is the only company that has taken training and events to a national level. He expects to grow the company by buying up smaller coaching companies and folding them into 3d Lacrosse. The biggest area for growth may be in girls’ lacrosse, as more universities add the sport.

“It’s been very consistent growth and I don’t’ see us slowing down,” he said. “We are 10 percent of where this company could be.”

Original article published May 29, 2015 written by Monica Mendoza, Denver Business Journal. Photo by Kathleen Lavine.