How a Grad School Project Turned into a Family Lacrosse Business

PHOTO COURTESY OF STEPS LACROSSE


This article appears in the February edition of US Lacrosse Magazine. Don’t get the mag? Join US Lacrosse today to start your subscription.

STEPS Lacrosse started as the subject of a grad school paper.

Charlie Shoulberg wrote about running a lacrosse camp while working on a master’s degree in educational administration and sports administration at Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College. 

Shoulberg got an A on the paper, and STEPS — Sportsmanship, Teamwork, Education, Pride, Success — has exploded since he put the idea into practice in 1996.

“Did I foresee enormous growth? I don’t know,” he said. “But I knew the sport was growing and I wanted to stay involved.”

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Shoulberg has worked as a health care consultant and in marketing, but his passion has always been lacrosse. A first-team All-American attackman at Ithaca College, Shoulberg played overseas in Australia and with the Rochester Knighthawks of the NLL. He was the assistant general manager of MLL’s New Jersey Pride and the 2006 U.S. men’s team. 

STEPS is a family business. Shoulberg is the CEO. His wife, Jessica, a former Notre Dame player and state champion coach at Mendham (N.J.), is the CFO. That is, when she’s not raising their five children ranging from age 3 to 12. “Without her, none of this works,” he said.







STEPS operates boys’ and girls’ camps, STEPS Elite, a club program with one boys’ team and two girls’ teams in eight different age groups, and an introductory program for third- and fourth-graders.

When STEPS started fielding travel teams, it also created events that quickly gained popularity. It started with Lax By The Sea, a girls’ tournament. STEPS added Lax For The Cure, Nike G8 Girls Lacrosse Club Team Showcase, Future Legends Lacrosse, Jersey Showcase and Nike Elite 120. This year, it has branched out beyond New Jersey and Philadelphia to run events in Florida and Maryland. 

PHOTO COURTESY OF STEPS LACROSSE

STEPS has partnered with US Lacrosse in its tournament sanctioning program. Four of its events are qualifiers for US Lacrosse Nationals. “I’d like to see the growth of the sport,” Shoulberg said. “Being involved with the national governing body is a great way to do it.”

The Shoulbergs are perhaps proudest of the success of Lax For The Cure, an event Jessica championed when three STEPS players’ mothers were fighting breast cancer in summer 2007. It has raised more than $2.5 million for the Susan G. Komen foundation.

“I like the philanthropy side of being able to give back, even though we’re running things as private entities,” Charlie Shoulberg said.

And that is worth another A.

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