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“Flip” – A Lacrosse Movie


(soft music) – [Narrator] How would you
describe a man who has won five national titles? Invented the offset head? Founded the Vail Shootout? Created Rock-It Pocket from scratch? And has always been about family? There’s only one word. – He became my father
when I was 12 years old. He was my mom’s boyfriend at the time and, you know, he took me in
right away and, like I said, the very first day we
met, he wanted to be part of this family. He wanted to create this
little family of us. And it was very easy, he’s
a very passionate man, he loves to do everything
right every time. Anything he puts his hands
on, he puts all of his passion and his love in it. Anything from when we went
skiing or when he taught me how to ski, actually, more specific. He takes his time, he wants
to do everything right, he has a lot of passion
for doing all these little things in life. – Somebody introduced me
to him and I told him I’d think about coming and, I
think, what was his response? Something like, “What number were you?” And I said, I remember, I think it was 18, I had 18 on. I said, 18, I just had
to look down at my jersey ’cause I didn’t know. And he was like, “Yeah,
don’t remember you.” – My mom had a passion
for having wayward college students in our basement
and feeding them for the weekend, and he was one of the few from Colorado College that came down. He taught me how to throw
a curve ball, you know, 50 yards away from each
other and stuff like that. He taught me how to string sticks. Back then I strung all my team’s sticks. That sort of thing. He had that passionate
infectious passion for the game that kind of rubbed off. – Flip and I met at
Colorado College in 1972. I’d transferred into Colorado
College from the Naval Academy where I’d played
lacrosse, and Flip had transferred into Colorado College from New Mexico. So right about the same time. I think he was there the first semester and I was there the second semester. So we started playing lacrosse together. Flip was unique in his
playing style and he was an extremely gifted athlete,
but he had a certain energy that was really unmatched and
just a passion for the game. We were both relatively new to the game, he’d played a little bit, I think, maybe in prep school a little bit. But we found ourselves just
really focused on trying to become better players and learned
to love the game together. – You know, I always say I
majored in lacrosse because, man, I just had the stick
all the time and I just was so excited about. I missed playing team
sport at a high level. I went to the University of New Mexico, a little too small to
play football or whatever, they didn’t have much. I had a little experience in lacrosse. I wanted to play something
when I got to Colorado College. I wanted to play a team
sport, and I just chose that. And I saw how far behind I
was and that inspired me, it didn’t discourage me. – I remember him, though,
as a college player, a little bow-legged guy
going out there to face off and taking the ball down, and
he was one of the few that had a windup sidearm shot. And as the ball boy, I got
to chase it several times. – The first time anybody
called me a shooter, when I had the ball, I had
to look around and see who they were talking about. Because it just was never
me, I did other things. But I can’t tell you
how empowering that was for me as a player. – It’s always been about the game, that was their motto, if you have it. A lot of the rules we use
in Vail have been adopted, we have a shot clock in lacrosse now. Well guess where that came from? A lot of the rules we play
with, we tried out up there. Let’s give this a whirl and
see what people think of it, let’s try and make the game better. He’s always been for that. – Back when we were at
Colorado College, there was a group of players out of
the Aspen area called the Aspen Stickmen that put a
team together and then they started looking for people
to play and they invited us up to play up in Aspen. So the first few years we were in Aspen, but the reason for it was just players wanting
to get another game in. It was an invitation to
Earl Bill to come join us that actually started
bringing in outside teams to the Vail tournament. And it’s that kind of bond between rivals, in part, and then fellow teammates, another part that was really probably the thing that fostered the growth of the tournament. So with Earl coming in and then some people that I played
with at the Naval Academy were on the West coast,
and they brought teams in, and then it just kind
of mushroomed from that. – I take my family with
me to Vail every year. It’s part of their life. They talk about it like it’s just the next day. You know, like, we’re going to Vail. What are we gonna do in Vail? Well, what are the dates? So my kids are just very involved in it. ‘Cause it took me a lot, I had done some growing up
before I got to college, but he really helped me with
some of the man stuff, like you have to do stuff you don’t want to do. You have to do stuff that you don’t like, but you got to do it. If you do it, you’ll be better for it. Those kind of things were daily things. And I mean, it kept going, too, because I know Flip as a coach, as a co-coach, ’cause, you know, I was his assistant. As a worker, he was my boss. As a father figure, as even a mother figure. I mean, he was just a parental figure. Like, my parents were very involved in my life, but yet he knew how to give extra. He was like the cool uncle, and then he was like the tough uncle. He knew how to pat me on the back and kick me in the butt
kind of at the same time. And that’s why I really responded to him. (calm guitar melody) – I’ve got into the customs of doing things fast and getting them done. Time is money. It’s not the way Flip
does things, obviously, and this is perhaps the best
thing I’ve learned about him, is the fact that he takes his time. He wants to do everything
correctly, everything right. We often say that, here in
our Rock-It Pocket business, Flip is the best stringer. He’s also the slowest one, by far. You know? (laughs) Because he takes his time. He wants to do everything right, perfect. (uplifting music) – I saw guys running down the
field without the ball that were really good players that didn’t know they didn’t have the ball. I didn’t want that ever to be me. Right away. And I couldn’t believe that it was them, you know, when I was not very far into the game. And that sort of motivated me. And the pocket rocking, and
the ball not rolling around. Now, some guys like it to roll around, and I get it, it’s okay, you know, but for me, trying to
get the perfect pocket that everybody sort of likes. And we do, I try to expand into different
kinds of pockets, but always believing that the center is where the ball should be. I think that throwing and shooting are
very different things. And the more you can
marry those two things where you can do the things you need to do to get the shot off you want to get, and also be able to
make a feed or whatever, and they can’t knock it
out of your stick so easy, which, I think, other times,
it’s how you keep your stick. Everyone has to know a little bit about how to keep your stick. – He thinks there’s a lot
of smart people who can actually look at a Rock-It Pocket and duplicate it, ’cause
it’s very difficult, even I have a hard time
stringing an entire pocket. It’s got a big name for
itself, for a pocket, and it gets confused with
all the traditional pockets a lot of times, so people
see a leather pocket, they think it’s a Rock-It Pocket. And the main reason is
because it’s been here for 26, 27 years now. Being out there for so long, and, obviously, there’s
something good about it if people are still wanting to try it out and to buy it and to use it in their games. So it’s fun to be part of that, that business that’s
been around for a while, and especially when
it’s Flip, your father, who started it all doing everything by himself. But he puts so much passion
and love to it that, you know, 20-something
years later, it shows. (uplifting guitar melody) – When he started coaching at CSU, if I’m not mistaken, I think I probably lobbied him to come out and take on that program, because I thought it was a great opportunity. I could see the quality
of players in this area going to college and proven. And you could see that
it was at a stage where it was prime for development. – When he told me, “What did
you play in high school?” I said, attack. And he said, “You can’t play defense.” And I said, yeah I can. He said, “Fine, go do it.” I went in on a middie
shift and played defense. I came out, and he goes,
“Well, you can play defense.” And, you know, I liked
that, ’cause he was like, he was challenging me, like,
“You can’t play defense.” And I went and played defense, and then he was like, “Alright, alright.” You know? And I think he liked that, and I liked that, too, I
mean, that was something I was drawn to him about, that he liked challenging us, but he also liked giving you a big hug. I mean, ’cause he was a hugger. I didn’t have a lot of coaches that hugged me, and he was a hugger. He’d hug you, you know, and say something to you, either positive or pushing you, I mean, he always let you
know that he loved you, but this is how he felt. I know one of my favorite
stories about Flip, though, when we were playing is we were playing a game, we were playing DU Club. We weren’t playing great, you know? But it was halftime, and
he’s just laying into us. He’s yelling at us. He is just so mad. And he’s mad with the way we’re doing things. We’re not executing. After he’s done yelling at us, nobody says a thing,
we just hop up and run back out there and get
ready to get warmed up, and I walk over to him and I put
my arm around him, and I said, you do know that it’s 14-nothing, right? (laughs) And he kind of went, “Yeah.” Like, “Yeah, so you think I
should be a little easier?” I said, we’ll be better,
don’t worry about it. And he just laughed, and I ran off, and, you know, it’s just
something that he was just… He really, whatever it was. We weren’t doing everything right, but we were winning and he kind of laughed at it, like, “Yeah, I guess it is 14-nothing.” And it was halftime. And we started to go back out, so I just made sure that we were crisp after that, and didn’t upset him too much more. – To watch these early-age Maryland teams and that had people like Steve
Stenersen as their face-off guy, and some of these guys that made everything look like a fast break. And they moved the ball down the field so beautifully and with everybody feeling a part of it, and I got that sensation where, man, the goalie made
that goal by how he… And it was beautiful to watch. And I’ve always sort of been an appreciator, try to not let
myself do too much judging. But the fact that they weren’t
great athletes, necessarily, they didn’t look like they
worked out all the time, but they understood the game and how the spacing was,
and how the movement was. And that’s the movie. You know, just watching them know the game. – Probably the first time I met him was when I was playing for
Team Colorado when I was in high school, I met
him briefly in passing. And so I hadn’t seen him again until when I went to Fort Collins and it was right after he
had got Lyme disease. And at first, I was like,
is this the same guy? I wasn’t sure ’cause he
looked a lot different from when I saw him. And then once he started talking and he was moving around, I think was the left side of your body that was still coming around? Yeah, he was still-
– I had palsy. – Yeah, he had palsy in the face. But then I just started watching
him, and he was just still scooting around, flying around. And you could tell his
legs weren’t working the way he wanted them to, but he was just motoring on,
and after that, I said, yeah, that is the same guy. – I got Lyme disease in ’98,
and it still hasn’t been up. But then, you know, it kind
of destroyed my immune system. So, in like 2009 and 10, I had
pneumonia a couple times, and that definitely contributed to the… You know, it makes you so weak. I wasn’t thinking that great for me. And it was hard to climb out of the hole. I guess there was a time when I was waiting to die. And I could. But now there aren’t
enough hours in the day. And, you know, I don’t have 30-year goals, you know? (laughs) I don’t, but long as I can be useful
to somebody on some level. And I know I still have some ability, creatively, and I have motivation, physically, I just can’t lift things as good as I used to and stuff like that, but I guess that you know
what bothered me the most? My team wasn’t getting the best of me. – You know, he did give
a lot of sacrifices. A lot of times. My brothers were born during that time. He had to be with his team, traveling, tournaments here and there, and so he had to be absent sometimes. He did put a lot of his
passion in the team. And, obviously, the best thing he’s taught to this lacrosse team is family. And you can see it
everywhere, and the players. I run into a lot of the older players, played back in the late 90s, early 2000s, and they were like, “Oh, man. “I remember you, you were a kid back then. “How’s your father?” And it reflects how much
Flip has impacted them with how friendly, and
happy, and lovable they are towards me, or my mother, or my brothers, or other people who
were part of the family that Flip created at Colorado State. And you don’t pick your family. You know, you don’t pick these guys. But they are part of your family. You have to accept it,
you have to help them. And there were some guys
who weren’t as good, say, lacrosse players, or didn’t have academic skills and they
weren’t doing that great. They helped each other out to do better, to make it as a team. It’s very important to have a certain GPA to keep playing sports. So, the smarter kids
in the team would help the other kids who had certain problems with that. And all of that carried
for a long time, because a lot of the old players still call Flip for his birthday, for Christmas. You can hear it when he answers in his car on the speaker, and they’re
like, “I love you, Flip. “Take care, big hugs.” You can feel that love that all these younger kids
are giving back to Flip. – Well, he’d fight. He’s got some of my
temper, and I don’t know if he brought it with him from Peru, but I suspect not. But, you know, we both get over it, and we listen. And when you listen to one another, I don’t know, you can’t
break that bond or something. And I feel like we’ve achieved that. And you have to re-achieve
it all the time, it doesn’t just stay there because
you got it, you know? Now we’re at the point where we can bring both of
our skills together and design something even
better, because I can say, well, it needs to look a
little bit more like this before we actually try and make it. And then he will say, “What about this?” ‘Cause he’s a bright
young man with good ideas. And I’m really pleased with the evolution of our partnership. You know, this is all his. And everything I do in lacrosse now, I’m also motivated, because I’m motivated to do something for my kids, and grandkids, or whatever. And Rock-It Pocket does have a pretty good reputation
for a lot of years. And now it seems to be it has the new life that it needs. – He’s definitely that supportive father, always has been. And the funny part is that his children, all of them, including me, have different desires in
life, different ambitions. One of them is super
athletic, he loves that. His father, you know, Flip, our father, supports him all the way. The other one likes sports, but he likes math and board games, stuff like that, a little different, you know? (laughs) He supports that, on his side. I always say, you have
to have pretty good kids, ’cause with a dad as liberal as you are, I mean, I don’t know why
I didn’t go all crazy, or anybody, because with
a father who supports and gives as much love as you do, a kid would go crazy
with all this greatness. But he’s done okay, I think. – As corny as it sounds, I try and run my family like a team. And for good reason, I’ve got a 30-year-old son, and a 10 year old, and we’re kind of all over the place. But we all do stuff together,
it feels really good. And because of the business, it’s a hierarchy for sure, but it’s teamwork, too. Michael has taken this sort of ownership,
a part of Rock-It Pocket, the right part, he’s got his role. He does what he does well. Our thing has always been quality control. And that’s why I’m so grateful for Epoch. Because Epoch and James are willing to do the work, to listen to me and put up with me. I admire the way, I do, I admire the way he dealt with me. Because I’ve been here and I’ve done this and I didn’t want to do whatever the been-there,
done-that thing was. And he, right away, showed me sincerity. So I figured, win, lose, or draw, let’s go, and I always
liked a little company. As Rock-It Pocket, every little magazine, newspaper, like Inside Lacrosse, had shown up on the scene. I’m right there, you know? I always have been since 1987. But the more I saw James
and the more, sort of, persistent that he was,
and got things done, and really wanted to do
it, and had a bigger plan, and understood that my role was my role. We’re all in this together, ’cause we all have different roles, and that’s just what it needs to be. And he did it. He allowed me to be me. – I’ve never met an
individual that had quite the creativity that he does. Whether it’s as a player or as a designer. I remember. And we coached together for a while at Colorado College. And we would sit and
we’d talk about things. He had new ideas. He didn’t feel bound by somebody else’s playbook. He was unique in his
coaching style and his development of the game. And I’ve seen that in his life, his business, his creativity has moved onto the lacrosse world with his head designs
and his pocket designs. He really is one of the
true geniuses of the game. – It all starts with here, success. You need to have that passion,
that love for something. You can’t just, you know, I want to invent something so
I can make a million dollars and move on, it’s really
not how it happens. It all starts with the passion and love. – You know, the first head design he did, he actually did it in wood. You think about it, he had the offset head, the curve on it, and he’d
done it with a wood design. – It took me talking my
junior year to really realize that the Cobra, I had that stick. It was hanging on my wall in my garage. ‘Cause my brother bought it my
freshman year of high school. And he strung, which is the funny part. He strung a makeshift
Rock-It Pocket into it. He like just tried to make it up himself, and I never put it together that, oh, that was the head that started it all. ‘Cause I didn’t even think about it. I was still playing with a flat head. And it was like, oh, this is your stick you helped design, oh, okay. By the way, my brother tried
to bite your pocket, too and did a horrible job at it. It’s a mess. (laughs) – Things have changed since he first did the
very first offset head, which was a little piece of napkin, he had a couple drawings, he said, “This would work a lot
better in lacrosse.” And, now, of course, we
have CAD drawings, 3Ds, 3D printing and all this stuff. So when he first had thought in his mind, he started drawing it, on a pencil, just on a piece of paper, with a pencil and a piece
of paper, he’s like, “This is what I’m thinking, Mike.” And, I got the computer with a 3D program, and I said, okay, just tell
me exactly what you want and I could probably come
up with something for you. So all that knowledge put together finally came up with the Hawk. James with Epoch Lacrosse came with a great idea of making models, mock ups. And 3D printing, of course, made it so much easier, because once he printed out the first one, Flip actually came back and said, “Oh, this is really what it looks like.” It’s different when it’s
on a drawing or when it’s on a computer, CAD scan, then
when you actually have it in your hand, because of
plastic that you can string up, that you can play; Catch and throw. Then he went back and he made more changes to what we already had. We said, “This is a little too long.” All those little changes to make the head better, obviously. And after a countless of
mock ups and different changes here and there, we
finally came to something where Flip could actually take
it and fall asleep with it and wake up and just absolutely love it. – I like the level that we’re on, which is we’re big, but we’re not, you know, we’re not trying to appeal to everybody all the
time, or we are trying to find that thing that you want as a player. What tool in sport is more important that’s
not attached to your body than a lacrosse stick? That you need to pay more attention to? That has more effect over your game? That you love more? If you’re a lover. (laughs) (relaxing guitar melody)

David Frank

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