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2018 Silver Anniversary Award: David Morrow

Former Princeton lacrosse star uses sports equipment company he founded to give back

David Morrow led Princeton to a 10-9 overtime win over Syracuse in the 1992 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship final. Princeton University photo.

Hailing from Troy, Michigan, David Morrow never dreamed of attending an Ivy League school, let alone becoming a college athlete — until his sixth-grade science teacher sold Morrow his first lacrosse stick for $20.

That innocuous transaction led Morrow down a new path: He has become an influential figure in the sport, helping spur its recent growth.

Morrow will receive an NCAA Silver Anniversary Award at the NCAA Honors Celebration on Wednesday, Jan. 17, in Indianapolis. The annual award recognizes six distinguished former student-athletes on the 25th anniversary of the end of their intercollegiate athletics eligibility.

Along the way, Morrow blossomed into a college lacrosse star at Princeton, leading the team to four straight NCAA tournament appearances and Princeton’s first national championship in 1992. He was named the 1993 Division I Player of the Year.

During his sophomore year, Morrow started a business. Now dubbed Warrior Sports, his firm is one of the largest purveyors of lacrosse and hockey equipment and clothing. But it’s more than a sports apparel company — Morrow has set youth development and community engagement as top priorities.

Battling doubts

After the fall semester of his freshman year at Princeton, Morrow wanted to quit the team — he thought he was the worst player on the field. His coach, Bill Tierney, pushed him to stay. He admired Morrow’s determination in practice and ability to push his teammates to work harder every day, not just in games.

“To this day, David is one of the best athletes I have seen play the game,” said Tierney, who has been a college head coach since 1982. “His speed is the first thing that jumps out at you, but his tenacity, competitiveness and refusal to be second-best put him far above the rest.”

Tierney’s faith in Morrow changed the course of his life: “Coach said to stay strong and he convinced me to stay,” Morrow says. “I’m glad he did.”

Building on what he knew

Since he was 13, Morrow had worked at a machine shop alongside his father in the summer. He learned how equipment and tools were made. During his sophomore year at Princeton, Morrow realized that he needed a stronger and more durable lacrosse shaft for his aggressive play.

Titanium was a little-used material for sports equipment at the time. But Morrow, in his dorm room,  designed a shaft that incorporated titanium. He and his father created the first seven samples in May 1992, about three weeks before the 1992 national championship. Princeton captured the title using the new equipment and Morrow’s company — Warrior Sports — was born.

“We were the only team in 1992 to have the new handles and I truly believe that innovation helped us win the championship,” Tierney said. “David took all his personality traits and dove into the creation of Warrior Lacrosse.”

Providing opportunities

Morrow has traveled the world while playing lacrosse at the highest level. He played for the United States national team, which won the 1994 and 1998 World Lacrosse Championships. But he knew the opportunities he had been afforded were rare, so he started a domestic professional league — Major League Lacrosse — in 1999 to give others the chance to build careers around the sport.

“The main reason behind the league was that I wanted to give all my friends who I played with the opportunity to play the sport at the highest level, and I wanted to give fans of the sport the opportunity to see the game being played at the highest level,” Morrow said.