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For this rising Coorado company, success is a sticky subjcct.

IF YOU'VE COACHED YOUTH SPORTS, chances are you've had this problem: You hustle to the practice field, hit "Mute" on a chirping cell phone, unload a duffel bag full of equipment, greet your early-arrival players, and then realize: You don't have a clue what to do next.

Something similar happened to Greg Waldbaum. He's a father of two and a lacrosse enthusiast who hit the coaching wall when he realized he had little more to offer his son and his recreational lacrosse team. "I knew I was at my coaching capacity," he says.

Rather than feel resigned, Waldbaum was energized. The entrepreneurial founder of Denver-based Firehouse Animal Health Centers recognized lacrosse was riding a growth wave. He sensed there was something interesting brewing: a combination of rising popularity, a shortage of talented coaches and a highly fragmented marketplace. More players than ever were signing up to play in places like Colorado, Texas, California and Florida. Waldbaum realized lacrosse was going to need coaches. Lots of coaches.

Luckily, there was a good one right in Denver. Jamie Munro had just left the University of Denver, where he turned a little-known men's lacrosse program into a Division 1 powerhouse over 11 years, leading the Pioneers to two NCAA tourney berths. Munro conceived a business that would syndicate his coaching program--drills, terminology, practice plans, conditioning and more--into a national training platform that could scale right along with the sport. Waldbaum joined Munro's 3D Lacrosse as chief operating officer in 2009.

Four years later, the Denver-based company is making a major impact. Leveraging Munro's coaching techniques, 3D Lacrosse employs and trains coaches across the country with remarkable consistency and a winning track record. Case in point: Last July when a newly assembled team of 14-year-old boys from Colorado and California took the field at the ESPN/U.S. Lacrosse National Championship in Florida, none of the teammates had played together before. But they knew the same assignments, plays and positioning thanks to immersion in Munro's detailed coaching regimen. They won the championship.

Last year's revenues for 3D Lacrosse are expected to double from 2012 to nearly $7 million. The company isn't the only player in the sport, but Waldbaum, who played lacrosse for Dartmouth College, says wide geographic presence and consistency in player-experience have separated 3D Lacrosse from locally focused instruction programs.

The sport's rising popularity has helped, too. According to a study published by U.S. Lacrosse, the sport's national governing body, more than 720,000 players participated on organized teams in 2012, an increase of 40,000 from 2011. Kids and parents are attracted partly by the sport's inclusive qualities, says Waldbaum. He also thinks lacrosse has benefited from publicized concern about football-related injuries.

Whatever the motivators, there are signs that lacrosse is becoming a go-to sport, especially in Colorado, where the Colorado Mammoth topped the National Lacrosse League for attendance in 2013, two area colleges are launching new teams next year (CSU Pueblo Men's Division III and the University of Colorado Women's Division 1) and the 2014 Men's World Lacrosse Championships will be held next July at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. "It's a fun sport," Waldbaum says. "And it's expanding everywhere."

Stewart Schley writes about sports, media and technology from Denver. Read this and Schley's past columns on the Web at cobizmag.com and email him at stewart@stewartschley.com

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Title Annotation:SPORTSBIZ
Comment:For this rising Coorado company, success is a sticky subjcct.(SPORTSBIZ)
Author:Schely, Stewart
Publication:ColoradoBiz
Geographic Code:1U8CO
Date:Jan 1, 2014
Words:561
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