The Art of Lax Blog

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Archive for the ‘Childhood’ Category

Goin’ Ol’ Skool!

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My recent piece and blog post: “The making of Ol’ Skool” reminded me of a situation a few years ago to revisit and revive the days when shafts were either aluminum or wood, heads were not offset and REAL stringing was “traditional”.  Having such things today and going against the current trends sets the definition of “Going Old School”.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

I was the assistant varsity coach of the Poly Prep School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and we were in Orlando, Florida for pre-season training in the early-March days.  Our hotel accommodation at The Disney Wide World of Sports complex, was one of many housing numerous high-school lacrosse programs in the country for the same reason, that the turnover of teams checking in and checking out was at a fast and steady pace.  Due to that circumstance our rooms were not ready for us to settle in, thus we had some time on our hands.  To make time pass, some kids “tossed the rock” in the parking lot, while others spent time listening to their iPods or did whatever their individual creativity opened up to.

A little over an hour went by and we received word that our rooms were finally ready to occupy.  The players, along with their roommates rushed into their designated rooms, some of them bumping into the housekeeping staff that just finished their work.  It was at that moment one of the staff got my fullest attention by asking me,

“Coach, does this belong to one of your players… I found it near the trash bins?”

Having no idea what she had found, she held in her hand an original, white, scuffed, scraped, unstrung, STX Excalibur head – one of the MOST popular and BEST lacrosse heads ever produced!

My response to her, YES, it DOES!”

Who would’ve thrown such a thing away or leave it behind?

I decided to take it.  By doing just that I gave it a new life but keeping the traditional, old school characteristics that I remember.  The following series of photos portray the revival of the STX Excalibur “going old school”.

STX Excalibur.  Strung traditional, wide, 6-diamond, nylon shooter lace and two hockey laces on a wooden shaft.


Some more from my “Old School” experience:

My STX “Crooked Arrow” shaft.  This was used during practice sessions in high school.

“Player of the World–Brooks Sweet”

With Brooks Sweet (All-American, UMass ’80.  Member of Team USA 1982—“Player of the World”).  Currently, Head Coach of The Poly Prep School (Bay Ridge, Brooklyn).

“The Trio” (Jon Hess, Chris Massey, Jesse Hubbard).  Considered the BEST attack unit college lacrosse.

With Chris Massey (Princeton ’98) and his son Oliver, during the screening of the USA/Canada 2010 World Games Championship game at Brother Jimmy’s in Manhattan.

Winning the New England Championship title – May 1995.


Written by theartoflax

July 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Posted in Art, Childhood, Inspiration, Lacrosse

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Thanks, Dad! Lax & Life Lessons – off the field.

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A little shout-out to all the Dads for yesterday being, Father’s Day.

Vicente Ricasio.

I think I can count in one hand the amount of times my Dad (Vicente Ricasio) saw me play lacrosse – Four.  He was not against playing and/or watching sports.  Rather,  he was always focused on working extremely hard to make sure his children had the opportunities for a better quality of life.  Better than what he and my Mom had before immigrating to the United States.  Those opportunities were to be hard earned with strict lessons learned.

Back in 8th grade, I was playing at a youth lacrosse festival in Long Island.  At the days end, I slung my gloves, pads and helmet on my goalie stick that rested on my shoulder, and headed with my Dad to the parking lot.  Passing the game fields, I saw in the far distance a bucket of lacrosse balls by the substitution box that was partially full, with nobody around.  I looked at my Dad, who was about 10 yards ahead of me, his attention grabbed by talking to some parents and yelled that I ‘would meet him at the car’.  I quickly dropped my equipment on the ground and ran towards the bucket of lacrosse balls in the interest of taking a few home.  I searched for unused or hardly used ones while the worn-out, “slick” or “glossy” ones didn’t grab my attention.  Regardless, I grabbed about six lacrosse balls in total.

I ran back to see my lacrosse equipment already taken from the ground and found my Dad waiting for me in the car.  I hopped in the passenger side, placed the lacrosse balls at my feet and buckled up.  On the return trip home, I noticed my lacrosse equipment wasn’t in the back seat, where it usually was.  I asked my Dad if he placed [it] in the trunk.  He shook his head, ‘NO’.  My false of stealing lacrosse balls gave way to my lacrosse equipment being stolen.

I argued why he did not take care of my equipment and he answered by telling me that, that was NOT his responsibility.  He eventually told me that there would come a time where people, or strangers, would not know or care what’s really important to you.  It was tough love he dished out but I eventually understood it.  I made sure that my equipment was always taken care of, always in my sight and under my fullest responsibility.

Hindsight is 20/20.  Lesson Learned.

Look, it’s pretty simple, now that I’m an adult.  If something is VERY important to you, you really need to be accountable for it.  My Dad set the self-reliance factor at a high-bar and at an early-age.  It might have been unconventional, but he was RIGHT.  In lacrosse, just like any sport, you have to be accountable for your actions.  Most importantly, that definitely goes correctly for your decisions and actions off-the-field.

When I started The Art of Lax™, I had no clear idea how the venture would start, but I knew NOBODY was going to do it for me.

Thanks, Dad!

(L-to-R: Vicente Ricasio & Vinnie Ricasio, family trip to Harbour Island-Bahamas.  Jan. 2011)

Written by theartoflax

June 20, 2011 at 8:10 pm

The making of “In The Crease”.

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“The Dive”.

It was all the rage/hype at the Johns Hopkins University “Blue Jay Lacrosse Camp” during my time in high-school in the early-to-mid 90’s, because Doug Knight (UVA) kept on doing it & doing it.  Maybe those extreme “Mountain Dew” commercials, back then, were to blame?  It was one of the wildest things seen and coolest way to score instead of a “BTB” (behind-the-back) shot.  But as a goalie, when I saw 2 “keepers” at camp get hurt from attackmen/middies crashing into the net, I was more scared of “The Dive”  than facing the 95-100 mph shots coming at me!

When asked to portray this in a rendering for Jim Rood’s business, “In The Crease Lacrosse” based out of Maryland, my mind went right back to this personal time and experience of mine on the field.  However, off the field, I did remember doing an earlier version of something like “The Dive” for a customer in Melbourne, Australia (Mr. Alan Lewer/Altona Lacrosse Club):

Mr. Lewer not only hung the piece up in his “bar room” at home, but got it permanently “inked”…


I got approval from a quick sketch, but needed original reference pics… I just couldn’t “execute it cold”.  So an early morning pose on the living room couch simulating “The Dive” was done.

Final piece.  Pen & Ink, 8″x12″, 3 hours total time.

Written by theartoflax

May 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Art, Business, Childhood, Inspiration, Lacrosse, Risk

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“The Elements of STYLE!”

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I still have that book from boarding school, also known as “Strunk & White” (William Strunk, Jr. & EB White), a guide for proper American English writing style.

I NEVER opened the book (the spine doesn’t have a crease) and it still sits on my bookshelf at home.

“Don’t look for a style.  Let if find you, again and again as it deepens and grows in richness, and as to your style, your friends will recognize it, you won’t, unless you stole someone else’s.  Style comes to you when it is ready and it comes as inevitably as sweat on a July day.” – Charles Goslin (Pratt Institute. Former professor of design. Feb 23, 1932 – May 16, 2007)

As an artist, the two questions I get the most are:

“Where do you get your style from?”

“What inspires you?”

I figured to somehow combine both art and lacrosse here, considering my two passions  I’m known for.  My artistic style comes from a variety of artists that I love.  I was fortunate to spend 3 years of my childhood growing up in Milan, Italy where I was able to see an abundance of original masterpieces up front.  You might be able to see the influence in my work(s).  The list of ARTISTS goes:

Leonardo Da Vinci (Italian. April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519)

Albrecht Durer (German. May 21, 1417 -April 6, 1528)

Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch. March 30, 1853 – July 29, 1890)

John Singer Sargent (American. January 12, 1856 – April 14, 1925)

There are so many more artists but these are my top dawgs!

As far as an ATHLETE. This is where it gets interesting!

Scott Bacigalupo (American, Goalie. Princeton University 1991-1994)

Mike Richter (American, Goalie. New York Rangers 1989-2003)

Lighting quick reflexes, aggressive, acrobatic and flexible!

Mix all contents in a bowl.  Stir frequently.  The final product(s) should look something like the following:



Inspiration and style comes from a multitude of things.  From Leornardo’s invention drawings, Van Gogh’s vibrant use of color, Bacigalupo’s unorthodox execution to Richter’s gymnast-style of flexibility – the more, the better.  But getting points for STYLE is not enough.  I’m constantly reminded how HARD these famous artists and decorated athletes had to WORK, growing their craft and expertise – and that is the MOST IMPORTANT aspect! As for that book, “The Elements of Style” maybe I can sell it to buy much needed art supplies and/or lacrosse equipment.

Written by theartoflax

December 9, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Everything Counts

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“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters.  Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” -Colin Powell (former Secretary of State)

One of my lacrosse coaches in boarding school was a man named David Reece, who has most definitely, taught me the importance of life in two, simple words.  It happened before the start of one particular practice when we did not have a game scheduled during the week.  A player asked Coach Reece if we could skip the routine (and often boring) stretch and warm-up, in the interest of just getting practice started and finished.  Coach’s response was very simple:

“No, because we will not skip what is important!”

The player inquired how it [stretching] was important and coach responded by saying:

“…because it’s one little thing that adds to a big part of our regimen and responsibility… whether it’s stretching out, tying your shoe laces, taping your stick, tweaking your pocket… even in practice… Everything Counts!

He would always say that in a commanding voice when somebody would try and “cut corners” sort-of-speak.  I take those words very seriously.  It has not only helped me as a player on the field but as a professional – trying not to overlook or take anything for granted, especially in the “real world”.

2 years ago to this day, the foundation of The Art of Lax™ was being finalized.  I promised myself, 24 drawings and 3 paintings done before the deadline of my 30th birthday – Nov. 16, 2008.  One of those paintings is titled “Everything Counts” and it is based on my experience and lesson from Coach Reece and the sport of lacrosse.  It is a reminder that if something is very important to you, make Everything related to it CountEVERYDAY.

Written by theartoflax

November 16, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Creating “The Stare Down”

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I was looking at the “drawings section” of the website, in particular – the goalies.  I noticed the contents displayed had them; starting a game, stopping a shot, clearing the ball, looking relaxed, etc.  What was missing was a piece displaying a typical goalie defending the cage.  So I came up with “The Stare Down”

“Get comfortable in a uncomfortable position” – Vinnie Pfeifer (former NLL goalie, NY Saints)

Funny that quote comes from a guy named Vinnie, but I remember him presenting that at the 2007 US Lacrosse Convention in Philadelphia, PA.  While doing the piece, I remembered my days in boarding school, practicing my “goalie stance” in front of a mirror in my room.  I would spend mornings before breakfast doing the “invisible chair” or “Wall Sits” in the hallway of my dorm, just before my dorm mates woke up.  I made sure my arms/hands were not resting on my legs, rather held up in the air, out and in front – just like holding the stick.  Sometimes, I would get in my stance and walk a 3-5 point step (left to right & vice-versa), practicing side-to-side or what is a “pipe-to-pipe” shuffle-step.  My ‘top hand’ was always kept at eye level, acting as my guideline in tracing the ball from a pass, feed and eventually – a shot!  The routine back then is still found in me to this day, defending the cage and “staring down” the opposition.

Written by theartoflax

November 10, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Posted in Art, Childhood, Lacrosse

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The Triumvirate

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Caesar, Crassus & Pompeius. The political alliance of the Roman Republic.

I had to refer to my 7th grade ancient history class (a favorite subject of mine) for the word and title – Triumvirate.  Wikipedia’s definition can be found here.

(Yes, that’s me in 7th grade – top row, 2nd from left.  1991.  The St. David’s School, New York, NY)

I wanted to artistically depict the 3 main components of a lacrosse team: offensive, defensive and goalie. A TRIO of some sort.  The focus being solely on them, nothing else.  The idea came during a late-night of staying up (couldn’t sleep), mindlessly watching old “Looney Tunes” cartoon characters on some network channel.  The Looney Tunes were all traditionally hand-drawn(!) compared to the present, digital/computer age.  I remember watching these shows either after school or on a Saturday morning, but what stands out the most in these cartoons are the “exaggerated style” that made it comical.

“Drive 2” (Offensive) progression pics:

This was my 1st of the 3.  I was inspired by the Looney Tunes character the “Road-Runner” – always evading chase from the hopeless, “Wile E. Coyote”.  Just like the “Road-Runner”, I made the offensive player very low to the ground, head tilted forward and focused on the goal in sight.

The finished piece – Drive 2:

“The Hunter” (Defensive) progression pics:

The cartoon character that came to mind right away was “Elmer Fudd” who was always on “the hunt for rabbit!”

Just like Elmer Fudd’s shotgun in hand, I increased the perspective of the defenseman’s pole as the primary focus – the one you see first.  His eyes scanning the field, patiently waiting for the prey.

The finished piece – The Hunter:

“The Stopper” (Goalie) progression pics:

The cartoon character that comes to mind (and my favorite) is the “Tasmanian Devil” or “Taz”.  He’s just a freak of nature, with some screws loose in the head and hard to figure out – just like goalies.  “Taz” would’ve been an awesome ‘keeper!

As a goalie, the hardest shot to stop is anything placed on the “off-stick side”.  Due to stick technology, shots have been so difficult to read that clean saves aren’t the norm anymore.  Stepping is so outdated, rather I believe in keeping good position and surging or “exploding” to the ball, especially from in close, throwing whatever you can.  However, in this piece, I wanted to show a clean, cross-over save.

It was such a simple time back then – cartoons after school, homework, dinner, more homework and lacrosse on the weekends.  Thank god the cartoons still exist on some late-night channel… but what was THAT channel again?!

Written by theartoflax

October 29, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Posted in Art, Childhood, Lacrosse

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