Welcome back to NLL.com’s weekly feature, Where Are They Now? Every week we will be catching up with former NLL players to hear what they are up to. As always, if there is a former player you’d like to hear from, send us a tweet @NLL.
This week, per a request on Twitter, is Drew Westervelt, 33, former forward with the Philadelphia Wings (2008-2013), and Colorado Mammoth (2014-2015). Westervelt was drafted in the third round (37th overall) by the Wings in the 2007 NLL Draft. He ranks sixth in Wings/Black Wolves history with 164 goals, and eighth in team history with 302 points.
Westervelt finished tied for fourth in the league in goals in 2012 with 36. His best seasons came in 2012 (career-high 36 goals, 19 assists, 55 points); 2010 (32 goals, 40 assists, 72 points); and 2015 (26 goals, career-high 42 assists, 68 points).
NLL.com: What are you up to these days?
Westervelt: On top of being a new father of a one-month-old baby boy, I’m the founder and COO of a consumer products business called HEX Performance (www.hexperformance.com). HEX is a laundry detergent system that cleans and protects performance fabrics as well as all laundry. We’ve developed a unique formula that deep cleans synthetic fabrics, delivering enhanced fabric performance, odor removal, and fabric longevity.
NLL.com: What does that job entail?
Westervelt: Mostly finding ways to succeed with a unique position in a really big category. Laundry and fabric care is an $8 billion category – everyone does laundry, right? So, the question is how do we position ourselves against really large brands?
Our technology performs at a better level, which is really exciting, but the job isn’t done there. I’m constantly evaluating our strategies, asking questions, and pushing the team to think outside of the box.
NLL.com: What gave you the idea to start HEX Performance and what are the next steps in the growth of the company?
Westervelt: The idea initially stemmed from playing pro lacrosse, and some of the problems I experienced from the sweaty sport. The original product I started wasn’t even laundry – it was a product to protect and clean professional sports venues, such as the turf, locker rooms, and training rooms from MRSA (A bacteria called Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and staph infections. That led me to learn about unique chemistries and how the products react with synthetic turf, metals, and plastics. We wanted to clean, disinfect, and protect them from bacterial regrowth.
While working on this commercial product, an “aha” moment hit me. I realized that my sportswear and gear was all made of plastic fibers. In that realization, I uncovered a solution for my own smelly sports laundry as a pro athlete. I wasn’t alone: from lacrosse parents to yogis, billions of people struggle with cleaning these modern synthetic fabrics from sweat and bacterial odor.
Fast forward to today, we’re currently strengthening our messaging and securing the right retail and e-commerce partners to continue to grow HEX.
NLL.com: How are you still involved in lacrosse?
Westervelt: I wish I still was. I miss playing. In full honestly, what I miss the most is that I was heavily distracted with this business towards the end of my career. It took time away from me training to be an elite player, which I miss. But I think me being away from lacrosse is a good thing right now because I just had a kid a couple of weeks ago and I’m married. I expect lacrosse to come back into my life, but currently I’m on hiatus.
NLL.com: What is your most fond memory of playing in the NLL?
Westervelt: I think three things. One is the locker room – that’s what makes the league so fun, the guys you travel and compete with.
Two is the competition. Every game was going to be a battle and it was never a night off. Lastly, because it’s so challenging to score in the league, I’d say the satisfaction I got when I scored and the hockey horn went off. I’ll never forget that sound.
Also, I can’t forget to mention the in-game experience in Colorado playing in front of 15,000 fans.
NLL.com: Do you still keep in touch with any of your teammates and if so, which one (s)?
Westervelt: I still follow a lot of the league. I love watching the league’s social handles because it seems like the talent and the skill level of these guys gets better and better and better every year. The competition is great. Jordan Hall is a great buddy of mine. Kevin Crowley is a great player to watch. It’s great to see Jordan McBride make a comeback. I also enjoy watching Eli McLaughlin on Colorado play. They are all tremendous athletes.
I also keep in touch with John Grant Jr, my teammate for two years in Colorado.
NLL.com: As a rookie with the Wings, what veteran(s) helped you the most get comfortable playing in the league?
Westervelt: I think there are a bunch of people from the Wings. Playing for Dave Huntley and Lindsay Sanderson was incredible. There were no better guys inside our outside the locker room than those two. They understood how to motivate people so well and they were just honest.
In the locker room, I was really lucky. Athan Iannucci was setting records. Geoff Snider was great to play with when he was a complete animal beating people up. I never got into a fight, but I always had Geoff because no one wanted to mess with us. We had Kyle Sweeney too. We had so much talent on that team. I got to play with Merrick Thomson and Brandon Miller. I could keep naming people forever in Philadelphia.
I think a lot of Americans try to come into the NLL and try to play like a Canadian. The skill set Canadians have is insane. Some things I grabbed from veterans was to just be really confident in your own abilities. I had to figure out ways to score, but if I tried to do it as a Canadian, I would have failed. I think that’s the biggest challenge with playing indoor lacrosse – you just have to implement what works for you.
NLL.com: What was your daily routine like on game days?
Westervelt: I wish I could get back in that routine because I can’t nap anymore (laughs). We’d have shoot around in the morning and then most of the team would go grab lunch. You’d take a nap, get up, grab a shower and coffee and then head to the arena.
I used to like to get to the arena in between 4 and 4:30. I went out with a bucket of balls on the turf before everyone else got there. There’s nothing better than getting to the arena and shooting by yourself out there. You have an arena with 15,000 people and you are just alone, by yourself, practicing. It’s very peaceful.
NLL.com: Can you describe what it was like playing in two of the loudest arenas in the NLL, the Wells Fargo Center and the Pepsi Center?
Westervelt: From the moment you get introduced to throughout the game, it’s crazy emotional. It’s so challenging to be efficient in this game and it’s so hard to score. So, it was so relieving as an offensive guy to score goals. You are so into getting through that game that it’s really tough to be aware of what’s going on around you. I know there was music playing around me but it’s hard to be present for that. I just tried to have a good shift.
Also, getting to see a replay of yourself on the scoreboard is an insane feeling. I was really lucky with the two franchises I played for. The best sound in the world is hearing the hockey sound going off after a goal.
NLL.com: What’s one place you’d love to travel to?
Westervelt: I just had a kid at the end of January. Me and my wife are looking to get away somewhere warm. Let’s go with the Bahamas.
Westervelt is the owner and COO of Hex Performance, a fabric care sold in Wegman’s, Star Market, Target and other stores. They are headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Rochester Knighthawks host the Buffalo Bandits tomorrow night at 7:30 pm EST to tip off this weekend’s games. Watch this weekend’s games on B/R Live and follow the NLL on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Follow Westervelt and Hex Performance on Twitter, @DrewCWestervelt and @HexPerformance.