Intent on rebounding from a frustrating 1-0 season-opening loss to San Diego, the USC women’s soccer team must bear the Texas heat this weekend as it squares off against Texas Christian University and the University of Texas at Austin in two non-conference matchups.Moving on · Junior midfielder Carly Butcher looks to continue her strong play as the soccer team travels to Texas for two games this weekend. – Sundaram Kuppuswamy | Daily Trojan On Friday, the Women of Troy will kick off their road schedule against TCU (1-1); from there, they will travel farther south to face Texas (1-0) on Sunday.Despite the disheartening beginning to the season, which included being dropped unceremoniously from the top 25 rankings, the team is not dwelling on its opponents. When asked about the challenges TCU and Texas pose, coach Ali Khosroshahin turned his focus to the Women of Troy.“To be honest, the biggest challenge is ourselves,” Khosroshahin said. “Right now, the biggest challenge is the ball and ourselves.”Evident in Khosroshahin’s response was not only the frustration that accompanies an unexpected early-season loss, but also his steadfast confidence in his team.During practices, he has emphasized maintaining formation as the team progresses down the field and staying connected. And as senior striker Megan Ohai pointed out, by staying in their own lanes, the Women of Troy can stretch the field and make themselves more difficult to defend.“We weren’t doing the little things,” Ohai said. “Everyone needs to work together and get on the other side of some of these crosses.”Undoubtedly, teamwork is how the Women of Troy will generate more offense and enjoy sustained success this season.“If we don’t connect, we won’t generate anything. It’s all based on the same thing,” Khosroshahin said.In TCU and Texas, USC faces two unfamiliar opponents, both unranked and coming off of mediocre seasons. The Horned Frogs opened their season with a 3-0 loss to Texas Tech, but soon rebounded, beating Texas Southern 7-0. The Longhorns won their only game 2-1 against North Carolina State, but also beat Louisiana State by the same score in an exhibition game.
Published on April 15, 2018 at 10:45 pm Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21 His shoulders, fingers, wrists and back hurt after he logs six- to 10-hour days. Jacques said he makes about 200 sticks per year now, down from about 11,000 in 1972. In the 1960s and 1970s, he made sticks for many Syracuse, Cornell, Siena and Cortland men’s lacrosse players. He learns more about the stick creation process every time, and often tells people who buy his sticks that they’re “the best stick I’ve ever made.”“Each stick is a work of art,” said Jacques’ sister, Freid. “He never hurried up so he could make more and make a lot of them, so he could make more money. That’s never the purpose. It’s to make an excellent stick.”Since many traditional stickmakers have died or retired, Jacques is running one of the last old-school stick-production joints in the country. He works in a shed with a few lights, alongside cats named Obama and Michelle, on a wooden bench he built with his father in 1969. His father, Louis, introduced lacrosse to him, setting him on a path to become a star at nearby LaFayette High School.In the decades since, when traveling to games and conventions, he’s had a front-row seat to the rise in the game, which he correlates with the rise in plastic heads. He maintains an appreciation for the innovations that drove a stark decline in demand for wooden sticks. He has no hard feelings, because he said it’s what brought lacrosse across the country and world.“If we had relied on Indians making wooden sticks,” Jacques said, “the game wouldn’t have grown as big, as fast.”The Syracuse men’s lacrosse team has not visited Jacques’ workshop, he said, but visiting teams sometimes do on their trips to play the Orange. Notre Dame and Virginia have watched him make sticks. Last year, UVA head coach Lars Tiffany looked back to his time growing up on a ranch in LaFayette — near Onondaga Nation — by busing his entire team to Jacques’ barn. Players packed into a back room.“The Onondaga Reservation reminds us all of the beauty of this game,” Tiffany said. “Alfie’s stick-making is at the core of lacrosse.”Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerThe foundation for the best-quality lacrosse stick begins about a year before it’s even used in a game. Tree selection is not paramount — Jacques said all steps are integral — but finding the right tree is make-or-break. The living nature of the tree is believed to transfer into the lacrosse stick and the person using the stick. A bad tree makes it impossible to construct a stick, said Jacques, who surveys forests in the LaFayette, Cortland, Cazenovia, Ithaca and Oswego areas.There can be no knots or limbs for the first 3 meters. The tree must be at least 100 years old. Each log costs about $50. Sometimes, he’ll pick five hickory trees out of 200. He cuts them down himself, and he brings seeds and plants new trees.Then Jacques splits the tree into eighths using a wooden mallet, axes and wooden wedges. He uses a knife — made in 1832 and passed down to him by his father — to remove bark and to carve the stick to its final form. He straightens the handle, balances the piece and puts final trims on.There is no playbook or measuring tools, just his own estimation that comes from 57 years of experience. The drying process alone is about six months. He completes each stick by sanding it, burning his logo, dating and stamping.As a large green belt-sander hummed last week, Jacques sat on an old wooden bench and carved a stick. He paid special attention to how the knife traveled. He explained that you don’t just pull the knife along the wood. A defining characteristic of a good stick lies in the handle. Don’t minimize the handle.“It’s therapeutic,” Jacques said. “You have a wood stove on, pot of coffee, just make chips all day. When you’re done, the floors are covered with chips. It’s a relaxing thing to do. Everything you do in this work has purpose to the end product. There’s no gravy. You don’t just cut for cutting sake. You cut with purpose. You saw with purpose, carve with purpose, drill holes with purpose.”Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerHe’s crafted wooden sticks for nearly six decades, factoring in his introduction to stick-making. Back in 1960, his family couldn’t afford a stick, which went for $5, so he and his father cut down a hickory tree in the backyard and made a stick without much background knowledge.Since then, a lot has changed. The game of lacrosse has blossomed. Many fellow stickmakers have died. Lacrosse fans have come from far beyond the edges of Onondaga Nation for his sticks. As the internet boomed, he never felt the urge to have social media or advertise on a website. There may even be a few thousand more sticks in his future, though he looks forward to scaling back in retirement.His sticks, at that workshop at the bottom of the hill, have remained a constant through it all.“This is what I live for,” he said. “This is what I can do all of the time, every day. This is my life.” Comments As steam formed inside a rusty oil tank, Alfie Jacques crafted wooden lacrosse sticks at a barn down a dirt driveway on the Onondaga Nation reservation a few miles south of Syracuse University.The tank in question measures a few feet wide and about 8 feet long. Its temperature was set so high that steam shot out of the 1,000-liter drum filled with water. Jacques, 69, stuck a piece of wood into the tank, pulled it out and bent it.“This boil starts steaming like hell,” he said. “The wood doesn’t just bend. You have to muscle it.”A few dozen logs sat under a tarp on the grass behind Jacques. About 15 yards away is his barn, home to what he believes is the best stickmaking in the world. The air smelled of wood. There is no plastic, no music, no TVs, no signs of assembly-line production. There’s just Jacques, his wood, his equipment and his devotion to a technique — a way of life — that has lasted nearly six decades. It has spanned the United States and Canada, and created more than 100,000 one-piece wooden lacrosse sticks, each made by hand.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textKevin Camelo | Digital Design EditorSeven days a week, 40-something weeks a year, Jacques wakes up at his Fayetteville home and drives his red van to a spot on the Onondaga Nation reservation that doesn’t show up on Google Maps. He opens up shop, crafts some sticks and locks up in the evening. It’s a no-frills operation that begins with selecting the best shagbark hickory trees and ends by fusing a message onto the stick, along with a trademark stamp. The inscription is often custom, especially if the stick serves as an award or gift. A stick he recently made reads: “Leader, friend.”“This is the Creator’s Game,” he said. “It’s a lot more than people think. People think of the Native American as a savage, godless creature that’s out to kill people. They say we’re poor, uneducated, on a reservation, totally controlled by the white people. That’s how they like their Indian. We’re always fighting against that kind of prejudice. So we embrace one another and the game of lacrosse.”Because of an extensive drying process, each stick takes 10 months to make and sells for about $350. Yet he maintains a drive for his craft because for Native Americans, lacrosse is sacred. Men are put to rest in a casket with a lacrosse stick.Many of his sticks are made for people living on the Onondaga Nation reservation, where lacrosse is used to heal and lift the spirits of community members.“Lacrosse is who we are as a people,” Jacques said. “And this is the mecca of lacrosse. People come from all over to watch the old Indian guy make lacrosse sticks.” Facebook Twitter Google+