This Is Why Paul Rabil Is The Face Of Lacrosse

Armed with a GoPro and a lacrosse stick, Paul Rabil repetitively heaves a ball against an artificial house, one created by Red Bull, complete with siding and shutters. With each sling, the wall succumbs to more damage, while the lacrosse star not only gets a workout, but reminisces about his past.

There’s no better learning tool than a wall

Growing up in the suburbs of Washington D.C., Rabil didn’t always have teammates around to share in his enthusiasm of the sport, so often he’d spend his time practicing against a wall. For a lacrosse player, there’s no better learning tool than a wall. It can teach hand-eye coordination, stick-handling ability and even precision accuracy, all with little equipment necessary. No matter what the age or skill level, a lacrosse player can spend hours practicing against a wall.

But there are some drawbacks.

Rabil discovered these drawbacks first hand, as practicing against his parents’ house often resulted in broken windows, damaged shutters and more. To this day, Rabil’s childhood home, where his career essentially began, still contains the damage he caused, much to the surprise of the 28-year-old.

“For some reason, over the last 10 years, they still haven’t fixed it,” Rabil admitted. “And, it turns out, it’s a very common problem amongst a lot of young lacrosse players.”

As Rabil walks up to the artificial wall to assess the damage, its clear just how much punch one of his shots can pack. In fact, Rabil’s shots have been clocked at 111 mph – a world record. It’s just one of the many accomplishments that he’s achieved over nearly 16 years competing. Every video, every workout, and every game – it all just continues to mold him into one of the sport’s best.

The first million dollar lacrosse player

But winning has long followed Rabil wherever he goes. In high school, he helped led his team to four championships, en route to being named Washington Post’s Player of the Year. From there, he went on to Johns Hopkins University, where he led the Blue Jays to two NCAA National Championships while being named NCAA Midfielder of the Year. On the professional level, he’s won championships in both the National Lacrosse League (NLL) and Major League Lacrosse (MLL), along with a slew of awards. He’s also the first million dollar lacrosse player and is sponsored by Warrior, GoPro and Red Bull.

But is it difficult to keep the same drive and intensity after such massive success?

Upon speaking to Rabil, it’s clear he’s first and foremost a fan of the sport and it’s that passion, that love for lacrosse – and helping to grow the sport – which continues to keep him motivated.

“I will always be a part of lacrosse – at least I hope I will,” Rabil claimed. “I hope to continue to grow my businesses into products that can help grow the game and help improve those who are playing.” 

The fastest growing sport in the country

With the steady decline of participation in football, lacrosse has seen a progressive growth in recent years, with team enrollment at an all-time high among younger athletes. According to U.S. Lacrosse, the national governing body of lacrosse, the number of high school lacrosse players in 2013 topped 290,000, making it the fastest growing sport among the National Federation of State High School Association. 

And with participation climbing, so is lacrosse’s media exposure. Before, fans were subject to whatever was on television but now, with games played year-round, there’s more sustainability and viewership. ESPN, NBC Sports and other networks have tapped into the market and in doing so, it makes more accessibility to games. More than 100 games are now broadcasted over the course of a year.

Of course, there’s also digital outlets as well.

“Now with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, we have a consistent and daily touch point with the lacrosse audience and that has allowed us to build this foundation around the sport – a foundation that hasn’t existed in the past,” Rabil added.

Rabil has become a trailblazer in forming that foundation. With the help of his website, No. 99 offers aspiring lacrosse players instructions and training that match various levels of competence. There, athletes can discover fundamental videos, strength and conditioning routines, nutrition plans, motivational blogs and much more – all of which Rabil himself uses on a day-to-day basis.

“It’s just one of those things where everyone claims that they have the best instruction and one thing I didn’t want to do is just kind of make that blind claim,” he said. “I just want to effectively get the message across that it’s a blueprint as to what has gotten me to where I am now.”

While his playing career is far from over, Rabil has already left his imprint on the sport of lacrosse. He continues to prove his dominance while providing the next generation with the access and support to follow in his footsteps. With an ambassador like Rabil at the helm, quite a bit more exposure could soon be on its way.

Ed Miller is a contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @PhillyEdMiller or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Getty

 

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