By Aly Morrissey | 8/10/12 4:30 PM
“Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a sports fanatic, a lacrosse player or simply a sucker for a good story, this book will not disappoint.”
The remarkable story of the birth of Major League Lacrosse by Jake Steinfeld and Dave Morrow is not only a tale laced with Jake's signature “Don’t Quit” mantra, it reveals the challenges and hilarity that ensued on the road to founding the first outdoor professional lacrosse league.
The at times Gonzo-style narrative paints an ink-blotted adventure rivaling the tales of the late Hunter S. Thompson himself. Whether it’s battling an irate Mother Nature during Championship Weekend or riding at full speed towards a crime scene with a crazed potential investor we’ll only know as “Mad Man,” the story of how Major League Lacrosse came to fruition is a page turner from start to finish.
The curtain opens on a young Jake Steinfeld in the basement of his parents’ Long Island home. He’s in the midst of a revelation that trading in Twinkies for dumbbells could lead to a world of unlimited opportunities.
“Can you imagine what a powerful realization that was for me?” he writes. “That I didn’t have to let the world tell me who or what I was-that I could decide what the world believed about me?”
This epiphany sets the stage for a journey in which doors would be slammed relentlessly in his face, but with the help of a few believers, a little luck and the most incredible lacrosse players in the world, Jake took a shot on what many said would be an impossible feat. He would decide what the world thought about pro lacrosse.
Jake’s resume speaks for itself so the fact that he had the audacity to create his own professional sports league while other investors were simply buying teams isn’t shocking. It seemed as if the self-made man could do just about anything, like build an impressive celebrity network out of thin air including the likes of Steven Spielberg and John F. Kennedy Jr. But the self-proclaimed mediocre former face-off specialist had a lot to learn about lacrosse if he wanted MLL to take off.
Enter Dave Morrow.
While Jake’s voice is the backbone for "Take a Shot," it’s impossible to deny the integral role Dave Morrow played, not only in balancing Jake’s maniacal optimism with a grounded perspective, but also in launching Major League Lacrosse.
The casual fan knows fitness guru Body by Jake recruited the help of the Ivy League lacrosse player to co-found MLL after reading an article about Warrior Lacrosse in Swing Magazine. What they probably don’t know is the challenging road that led Morrow to that point.
In "Take a Shot" we learn that the Detroit-native developed an unrelenting work ethic at age 13 when his father put him to work in his steel factory. Every morning he would wake up and clean the giant machines.
“I’d finish a day of work covered in oil and grease and tiny steel chips that got in my hair and skin,” Morrow writes. “I worked alongside some tough characters: big, blue-collar guys from Russia and Poland who were missing fingers and had other gruesome injuries from years of factory work.”
The physical and mental toughness Morrow developed would prepare him for a decorated defensive career at Princeton University and an unparalleled ambition that would be the impetus for revolutionizing the sport of lacrosse through the advent of the titanium shaft. He was also the first person to successfully market the sport as a lifestyle.
The unlikely duo has done what no one thought possible: given lacrosse players and fans something to look forward to after college. It spawned a pro league featuring the best lacrosse talent in the entire world.
In their book, Jake and Morrow recount the events, meetings and executive decisions that went into marketing MLL early on. To start, a league that boasted a true grit, in-your-face style of play had to adopt a fitting slogan. Together they decided on “Take it Outside.”
“We were going to play lacrosse the way it is meant to be played: Outdoors, on a big field, with plenty of space for great players to do their thing. So our slogan had to reflect what was new and special about us,” Jake writes.
Jake describes Morrow as a "fish out of water" in the meetings with highfalutin investors in Los Angeles and New York City, but it was Jake who was out of place upon meeting the future MLL players for the first time. Equating it to a scene from Animal House, he remembers his first conversation with the unassuming athletes who would go down in history as the first ever pro lacrosse players. In signature fashion, he didn't see the empty pizza boxes and beer cans as a deterrent and his motivational words lifted the entire room.
“For us to make this work, I told them, we needed the players to be fully on board. They had to understand we were all in it to make sure the players bought into our way of thinking. I wanted them to know what they would be: Pioneers.”
"Take a Shot" immortalizes the league's first players as the true foundation for its success today. We get an insider’s view of legends like Mark Millon who paved the way for the young lacrosse stars coming out of collegiate programs today. “He never dreamed about playing in a pro league, because there had never been one,” Morrow writes. “Now that MLL was on the horizon, he wanted as much as anyone to make it happen.”
While Morrow describes Millon as “all business,” he unveils the rebel in Casey Powell, perhaps one of the most adorned names in MLL history. “Casey was the ultimate free spirit-a true rebel who happened to be one of the best lacrosse players in the world.”
In Take a Shot, Jake and Dave take us on a candid tour of the first MLL press conference in Times Square with a disheartening audience of three, of dicey guerilla marketing tactics, of the very first Summer Showcase, signing with big name sponsors, and the financial ebbs and flows that plagued the league during the recession.
Take a Shot isn’t just the remarkable story of the birth of a professional lacrosse league that persevered in the face of adversity. It’s a story of friendship and adventure and will leave you laughing out loud at times and will even inspire you to go out and “Take a Shot” of your own. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a sports fanatic, a lacrosse player or simply a sucker for a good story, this book will not disappoint.
"Take a Shot" by Jake Steinfeld and Dave Morrow will be released on August 15, 2012. You can pre-order it today at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com. For media inquiries, please contact Jo-Ann Geffen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also purchase the book at the 2012 MLL Championship Weekend at Harvard Stadium in Boston, Mass. on Saturday, August 25. Jake Steinfeld and Dave Morrow will be signing autographs on site. Click here to buy tickets.