University of Delaware
Office of Public Relations
The Messenger
Vol. 5, No. 4/1996
Native American culture inspires lacrosse clothing company

     Most people leave the University with a degree, perhaps a
job. John Barcik, Delaware '92, left with a determination to
start his own company, having already laid the groundwork-thanks
to the help of some people at the University.
     After graduation, Barcik waited tables to fund his venture,
the Baggataway Clothing Co., and began operating out of the trunk
of his car. Now, his line of lacrosse clothing is sold in 90
stores up and down the East Coast, as well as through sportswear
catalogs. Sales have quadrupled since the company incorporated in
     "This spring has been very exciting," Barcik says. "We've
had a lot of people take notice of what we're doing, including
STX and Brine, the two major manufacturers of lacrosse
     Despite the growing popularity of lacrosse-now played by
300,000 men and women through school teams, youth leagues and
club teams-no one was manufacturing a brand name line of apparel
with a lacrosse theme. Barcik, a four-year member of the UD
varsity team, seized on this opportunity to combine his love of
the sport with his interest in its Native American roots.
     He began designing the clothing while still a senior at the
University, using the library for his research. Baggataway's
first design, which serves as the company logo, was inspired by a
few brief sentences Barcik found in a lacrosse book.
     "I knew there had to be a Native American word for
lacrosse," Barcik explains, "because they invented the sport. I
found several words, and Baggataway happened to be the most
recognizable and most pronounceable." Baggataway, which is from
the Ojibway dialect spoken by a tribe in the Great Lakes region,
appears on most of the company's clothing, along with graphics
inspired by the Native American origins of lacrosse. These
designs, many of which are in full color, include such elements
as eagles, totem poles, bear claws, lightning bolts and lacrosse
     Barcik speaks highly of the resources available to him as a
student in starting his own business. "I must have been in the
Smith Hall computer lab hundreds of times rewriting the hang
tag," he confesses. He did a trademark search in the library,
then sought the help of the University's Office of the Vice
President for Research in applying for a trademark. He also took
many of the courses offered by the Small Business Development
Center at the University.
     The Baggataway clothing line includes T-shirts, sweatshirts,
shorts and caps. All of the clothing comes with a hang tag that
explains the origin of the sport. "I think it's very important
for people to know the origins of the game," Barcik explains.
"It's the oldest team sport in North America, but many lacrosse
players, even many Native Americans, don't know this."
     Barcik has been especially pleased with the response of
Native Americans to the clothing line. "I've always been
committed to being authentic about the designs," Barcik says.
"The Native Americans I've met have all been very supportive of
the Baggataway line because they feel as if we're educating
people about the sport and doing it in an appropriate way."
     Barcik's former lacrosse teammates will undoubtedly remember
his fascination with Native American customs. In his senior year,
Barcik convinced his fellow players to perform a Cherokee
lacrosse ritual called "Going to Water." According to this
tradition, the medicine man, who was also the lacrosse coach,
would lead the players to a sacred body of water where he would
perform a ritual using red and black beads. The players would
wear red bead necklaces, which represent victory. They would bury
and stomp on the black beads, which symbolized the confusion of
the opponents.
     "Here were the team members, with war-painted faces and
dressed only in towels in 20- degree weather," Barcik laughs.
"The closest we could come to a sacred body of water was a run-
off creek near the University's fields. Most of the necklaces a
friend and I had made had become hopelessly entangled, so the
players ended up just holding beads." They dutifully buried and
stomped on the black beads but were beaten soundly in their game
the next day.
     "I took a lot of elbows for that," Barcik says. "We still
have a good laugh about it when I see those guys.
     "When I started Baggataway, I had a passion for this
concept, and I had connections in lacrosse," Barcik says, "but I
had no knowledge of the apparel industry."
     His search for a partner who had that experience ended when
he met Ira Hochstadt, a former All-American defense man at the
University of Maryland who had worked for Champion sportswear for
15 years. In addition to Barcik and Hochstadt, Baggataway has one
other employee, a full-time assistant who helps Barcik manage the
day-to-day business of the Columbia, Md., based company.
     Barcik's additional responsibilities as president are
varied. He still designs all of the clothes, which are printed,
warehoused and shipped by Coming Attractions, a fulfillment house
in Manassas, Va. He also serves as sales representative for the
company in the mid-Atlantic states. Independent sales
representatives in New England, New York and the Carolinas also
market Baggataway's line. His promotional efforts have recently
paid off with a cover photo on the March 1996 issue of Baltimore
magazine and an appearance that same month on WJZ-TV Baltimore's
morning show, Coffee With.
     Barcik says he hopes to expand Baggataway by marketing to
people outside of lacrosse circles, in much the same way as
surfing-related apparel has reached a broader market. "Kids in
Nebraska buy surfing apparel, even though they may never have
seen the ocean," he says. "They're buying the lifestyle look, the
     As part of the push to broaden its market, Baggataway has
recently begun to sell in Western shops and Southwestern stores,
capitalizing on the current popularity of Native American-
inspired products.
                      -Theresa Gawlas Medoff, Delaware '94M