Paul Rabil’s Lofty Goals for Pro Lacrosse

Could the DeMatha grad’s $1-million career change the face of pro lacrosse? Here’s what you need to know.

By: Mary Yarrison

One of Rabil’s teams, the Boston Cannons, play the Chesapeake Bayhawks in Annapolis July 18. Photograph of Rabil By Shawn Heifert.

➼ He grew up in Montgomery Village and commuted 30 miles each way to DeMatha High in Hyattsville. “Brutal,” he recalls.

➼ Thanks in large part to an 111-mph shot, he’s the first person to turn pro lacrosse into a $1-million-plus career. When he joined the pro ranks five years ago, he played part-time and worked in finance during the week.

➼ Only about $70,000 of his income comes from playing lacrosse—January through May in the National Lacrosse League, April through August in Major League Lacrosse. The rest is from sponsors such as Warrior Sports, Red Bull, and high-end gadget brands.

➼ What industries does he want to break into next? Video games à la Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, though he didn’t completely shoot down our “hair products” suggestion.

➼ In 2011, he switched equipment sponsors to Warrior, where he helps tweak the Rabil Collection. Why? “When I’m done playing, my brand will only be sustainable if the equipment is the best. Jordans wouldn’t be around this long after Michael Jordan’s retirement if they weren’t really good shoes—not that I’m comparing myself to Jordan.”

➼ His foundation awards small scholarships to DC’s Lab School and funds its lacrosse program. Rabil picked the school because it serves kids with learning differences; he says the level of individuality encouraged in lacrosse makes the sport a good fit for them.

➼ He sometimes challenges coworkers to dunking contests. Spoiler alert: The six-foot-three superhuman can dunk. Past victims include former colleagues at Cassidy & Pinkard and his Philadelphia Wings teammates.

➼ He calls his high school one of his best networking tools, possibly better than his university, Johns Hopkins: “People slight that level of education and want to hear more about your college and postgrad experience, but when you mention DeMatha, they perk up.”

This article appears in the July 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.