EvoShield has formally announced its entrance into the lacrosse market with a National Lacrosse League partnership. The Wilson Sporting Goods subsidiary will serve as the official supplier of performance-driven sports protective gear for the 34-year-old indoor league. Under the terms of the deal, EvoShield will supply NLL players with a variety of equipment (think: wrist guards, chest guards, thumb guards, toe guards, thigh guards, and rib protective shirts) designed to keep them safe.
Howie Long-Short: Wilson Sporting Goods is a subsidiary of the Finnish sporting goods conglomerate, Amer Sports (brands include: Salomon, Peak Performance and Atomic). The company (best known for: tennis racquets, footballs and basketballs, baseball gloves and golf clubs) pulled EvoShield out of bankruptcy back in Nov. ’16 for +/- $11 million. In addition to the protective gear brand, Louisville Slugger, DiMarini and ATEC all fall under the Wilson umbrella. Wilson declined to cite financial information that would have helped to put EvoShield’s significance within the corporate portfolio into perspective.
EvoShield’s deal with the NLL is its second official partnership with a pro sports league – the company also serves as the official protective gear of Major League Baseball. Their molded protections are used by players around the league to both prevent injury and to protect existing ones. But because Gel-to-Shell technology (which Wilson has patented) contours to one’s body, associate marketing manager Riley Wancket says the product can be used “for whatever sport or activity” the athlete may be participating in.
The Wilson family member is tackling the lacrosse business because aside from being a fast-growing sport, the company has “learned on the marketing and product side that a lot of players are already using EvoShield protection equipment.” Athletes are finding that the the company’s products are lighter than traditional protective gear and the custom moldings allow for more fluid movement on the field. Hockey would appear to be another sport that EvoShield has an opportunity to make headway in.
The NLL also recently announced a long-term partnership with Warrior that makes the New Balance subsidiary an “official supplier of the equipment pool for players”, so it’s certainly worth wondering how EvoShield fits into the league’s plans. Wancket says the brand’s products are “alternative or additional” to those a traditional equipment provider issues. He cited wrist guards – or slash guards – as an example. “They’re probably our most beneficial product for lacrosse because most players don’t currently wear any protection between the glove and elbow pad.”
It’s unclear just how large the protective equipment market is, but it reasons to believe it’s a growing sector with “new protection standards and protocols” being introduced across all levels of sport.
Fan Marino: Wancket says that the EvoShield elbow guard is the line’s most successful product (their leg guards are second). If you’ve been watching the MLB post-season you may have noticed several star players have wore the equipment. Carlos Correa (Astros) and Victor Robles (Nationals) are among those who will don EvoShield products during the 2019 Fall Classic.
Kids that see Correa and Robles wearing EvoShield products will inevitably want to emulate their heroes, which is exactly why partnerships with pro sports leagues (and athletes) make sense. Wancket explained that “[the company] wants to work with the pros because those guys wear the best equipment out there. [Kids] see the pros wearing it and inevitably [the desire to wear protection] trickles down. Working with the pros also helps [Evoshield] to create the best products for the biggest stages.”