3d Lacrosse Partners with United Women’s Lacrosse League; Takes Over Operations to Advance Girls, Women’s Lacrosse Nationwide
BOSTON – 3d Lacrosse has announced an agreement with the United Women’s Lacrosse League to take over all aspects of the four-team professional league’s operations in a move that will spawn new opportunities for women and girls lacrosse players nationwide.
Beginning immediately, 3d Lacrosse will assume management of the United Women’s Lacrosse League – also known as UWLX – including its field operations, scheduling, player relations, personnel, marketing and communications.
Drawing on the company’s experience in national and regional events, camps, showcases and lacrosse club operations around the country, 3d Lacrosse will look to increase operational efficiency for the league’s backend processes.
Utilizing 3d Lacrosse’s resources and its network of coaches and staff members nationwide, the partnership will aim to ultimately create a better experience for the league’s players and its fans. 3d will also leverage its relationships with its partners STX Lacrosse and Nike in growing the league’s presence and fan base.
“We are thrilled to join forces with the United Women’s Lacrosse League’s management to take the product to the next level and continue the original mission of creating opportunities for women,” said Greg Waldbaum, the CEO of Denver-based 3d Lacrosse, the lacrosse industry’s leader in training and player development services.
Co-founded in 2016 by Digit Murphy and Aronda Kirby, the UWLX features teams based in four major sports markets: the Baltimore Ride, the Boston Storm, the Long Island Sound and the Philadelphia Force. The league wrapped up its second season in early August.
3d Lacrosse will work to enhance the visibility of the league in 2018, leaning on its large network of coaches and partners all over the continent. It will also work with its partners in growing the league.
Baltimore-based STX Lacrosse, 3d Lacrosse’s official equipment partner, will continue to supply the league and players with the most advanced gear and protective goods in the game. Nike, also a major 3d Lacrosse partner, will continue as the league’s exclusive footwear supplier for the 2018 season.
“We are very excited at the convergence of two of our most important partners in the grassroots development of lacrosse,” said Ed Saunders, STX Lacrosse’s Director of Marketing.
“3d Lacrosse brings best-in-class operational infrastructure to the post-collegiate women’s lacrosse ecosystem. Further, the opportunity to combine the organizational mission and athlete influence of UWLX with the expansive reach of the 3d Lacrosse development platform is unmatched.”
Saunders said STX supports 3d Lacrosse’s plan to create workshops, clinics and other teaching engagements at and around each of the league’s games. With the league’s teams competing in the same location some or most weekends, 3d Lacrosse and STX will maximize their efforts to promote each contest while teaming up to create opportunities for UWLX players to fill their weekends with activities that help build their coaching resumes and connect them to fans.
The opportunity to introduce lacrosse to youth girls, Saunders said, is invaluable for the future of the game and its growth.
“The alignment of the two entities will further the STX vision of empowering higher performance for athletes at all levels of lacrosse, by encouraging post-collegiate athletes to play a significant role in the development of future generations of players, while increasing access to the sport,” Saunders said.
The partnership also furthers the greater vision of the UWLX’s founders, Murphy and Kirby.
The career record holder for wins as a women’s Division I hockey coach and a longtime professional women’s hockey coach, Murphy knew establishing a women’s lacrosse league would be challenging.
But she and Kirby were confident that simply getting the league off the ground was the first crucial step in making their vision a reality. The next phase, Murphy said, was establishing an operating partner that could help professionalize the UWLX and make it a more sustainable venture.
“We proved there’s a market for it and it reinforces the importance of women’s sports. We blazed a trail,” said Murphy, who was recently named the General Manager and Chief Coach of the Kunlun Red Star professional women’s ice hockey team in China. Additionally, Murphy is the Head Coach of the Chinese women’s national ice hockey team.
“To be partnering with a major lacrosse brand after two years is the next step in the evolution of UWLX and the acceptance of women’s sports by the mainstream. 3d Lacrosse’s model for development and growth is exactly in line with how we’re creating women’s opportunities at all levels.”
Murphy and Kirby launched the UWLX with the belief that young girls deserve heroes and leaders through sports. By working with 3d Lacrosse to ensure that women playing on each UWLX team have ample opportunities to coach, Murphy believes the league will more sustainably create those role models.
“To be able to move forward with our mission, and to have partners like 3d Lacrosse, STX and Nike aligned with us, is really an awesome and valuable opportunity for these athletes and some of the great coaches we have on board,” Murphy said.
“At the end of the day, the league is about creating opportunities for these athletes to play the game, to inspire others, to stay involved in lacrosse and to foster meaningful partnerships and relationships so that we can keep getting women’s sports on the map.”
3d Lacrosse, which operates club programming in 14 different markets nationwide, will look to grow ancillary opportunities for all of the league’s players to get involved in coaching and introducing the game to girls youth throughout the country.
Lacrosse legend Gary Gait, now one of the top women’s coaches in the game, will serve on the league’s Board of Commissioners. He said the league represents a chance to grow lacrosse in general.
“I’ve supported professional women’s lacrosse from the beginning and got involved with the UWLX last year hoping to make a positive impact,” said Gait, who is entering his 11th season as the women’s head coach at Syracuse University.
“I’m excited to continue on next season and look forward to working with a group of energized people to bring the women’s game to more fans and to create an excellent experience for the players and the coaches.”
Regy Thorpe, 3d Lacrosse’s newly named Chief Lacrosse Officer and the coach of UWLX’s Long Island Sound franchise, will join Gait on the Board of Commissioners.
“3d wants to grow opportunities for women to give back to the game and stay involved and that focuses largely the chance to coach the game,” Thorpe said.
Thorpe, who coached the Sound to the league’s championship this summer, believes 3d Lacrosse’s Methodology — a coaching paradigm and resource library for lacrosse coaches — is the perfect tool for bringing the professional athletes together with local youth.
“3d will put the players in a position to engage in valuable teaching and training opportunities at league games and beyond,” Thorpe said.
“That will give these women additional opportunities to coach and work in the sport. It creates a wave effect: they introduce the game to new players, they help players improve and they create opportunities for themselves to become more deeply involved in coaching. This is how you impact the next generation of players and keep good people involved.”
For the league’s coaches, the UWLX partnership with 3d Lacrosse signifies an important time for the expansion of a sport that still has room to grow even in what are considered traditional hotbeds.
Carol Rainson-Rose, the CEO of Long Island Elite Lacrosse and the head coach at Northport High School in Suffolk County, is the General Manager of the Sound franchise.
Rainson-Rose said she looks forward to a partnership that will work to ensure the game’s top player can play lacrosse longer, while also offering steady opportunities to coach and find additional work in the sport.
“It’s an amazing honor and privilege to have the opportunity to continue working with 3d Lacrosse, STX and Nike in the UWLX,” Rainson-Rose said.
“This is an exciting time for young ladies to showcase their talents at the professional level while being positive role models for girls youth today. I’m thrilled to be part of a league that values women’s lacrosse and its athletes.”
Hillary Fratzke, the captain of this year’s championship winning Long Island team, was grateful for UWLX when it was first announced. She played lacrosse at Towson University but then spent eight years before returning to the field as part of a team.
“Never did I imagine I would have the chance to lace up cleats in pursuit of a championship again,” said Fratzke, who has been the head coach at the College of William and Mary since 2013. “I was lucky enough to be given that in the first year of the UWLX.”
Fratzke said she’s encouraged by the league’s upward progress in its first two years. She is hopeful that the support will keep more players and coaches involved as the league grows.
“I also don’t think anyone expected it to be run perfectly and I knew people weren’t in it for the money. But I know the financial support and a strong organizational structure will make the players, coaches and fans feel valued for the time and energy they put forth to give the UWLX a sustainable future.”
3d Lacrosse management views the partnership with the league as a chance to build on a platform that already has plenty of momentum with dozens of college stars and respected coaches involved heading into its third season.
“We pride ourselves on operational excellence and it’s our hope that we can bring a level of sophistication to the UWLX and provide a forward-thinking approach to positioning the league for growth,” Waldbaum said.
By allowing the league’s coaches and its players to focus on the on-field strategies and the game play itself, Waldbaum believes 3d Lacrosse can help raise the level of play on the field and increase engagement with a growing fan base.
“The UWLX management team has done a great job of creating the foundation for this league, which presents women with the opportunity to play the sport that they love beyond their college years. It’s now our job to make sure that the league functions sustainably and to treat the coaches and players like the professionals that they are, “Waldbaum said.
“We are honored to be afforded the opportunity to help advance the women’s game at a point in time that feels crucial to its growth. There are more eyes on lacrosse than ever before, and the UWLX needs the right support to help grow sustainably. We’re excited to work with the league’s founders to build on the terrific product they’ve created.”
The UWLX will hold its Supplemental Draft on Sept 30 and Oct 1 and the College Draft in January of 2018, with additional details and the 2018 schedule to be announced in early September.
For more information on the United Women’s Lacrosse League, visit the UWLX website. Follow the league on Twitter at @unitedwlax and on Instagram at @unitedwlax.
For more information on 3d Lacrosse, visit 3dLacrosse.com.