An Ode to Goalies

“Goalies are a little off their rocker”.

“You have to be crazy to be a goalie”.

“Goalies are a rare breed”.

“It’s a goalie thing”.

“Goalies only hang out with goalies”.

“All goalies are weird”.

These quotes are just the beginning of the plethora of stereotypes I have heard about goalies. Not to say that some of these stereotypes are incorrect but the assumption that all goalies fit the mold of the stereotypical goalie is to neglect the individuality of players. For this reason, it is not always easy to be a goalie. You already are sacrificing your body and now you have to sacrifice your own identity. Like all goalies, I have had trouble with this concept; however, I have found some ways to handle the haters and show that there is more to goalies’ character than being “weird” or “crazy.”

Whenever I tell people I play lacrosse they always assume I am a midfielder. When I tell them, I am a goalie I usually get the remark “you do not look like a goalie.” Instead of questioning this statement, I used to say things such as “Thank you so much. That is a huge compliment you do not think I look like a goalie.” However, this past year I realized that I was belittling the arguably most important position on the field. I was fueling the stereotypes associated with goalies. In this blog post I want to explain the reality of the women’s lacrosse goalie and the truth behind their character to pay homage to all the courageous women out there holding a goalie stick.

Women’s lacrosse goalies have it rough. When goalies make mistakes in lacrosse, it is obvious because it is deduced into a number—how many goals are scored on you. When field players mess up it can be obvious, but they have the opportunity to fix their mistake. On the contrary, when a goal is scored, there is no opportunity to fix the mistake made; instead, there is only time to reflect. This is a huge mind game, which is the epitome of the goalie experience. When you are scored on you have to erase the goal from your mind and keep your head up. This is one of the hardest tasks you can ask of an athlete (or even a human) because we spend copious hours reflecting on our mistakes through film, practice etc. It is against our human nature not to dwell on a goal, two goals or five goals that have just been scored on us in a row. However, goalies are expected to still perform after goals go in. This only becomes more difficult due to the fact that lacrosse is a high scoring sport. Goalies can let in fifteen goals and still have an outstanding game. We all know this too but when we are personally in the net it feels as if each goal is a shot to our morale. But does this stop us from persevering? Absolutely not. We flip on our mental toughness to its’ highest dial and perform.

Women’s lacrosse goalies are tough both mentally and physically. Goalies endure hundreds of shots per week to the body with minimal protection. Discolored bruises are our best friends. It is funny because in my experience with every team I have been on the goalies will argue who has the coolest and biggest bruise. These bruises are a badge of honor. A physical blemish of putting our teammates before ourselves.

We are the last line of defense. Once the ball crosses the crease, we are the only ones who can save it. The ball has gotten past every single player on the field before it travels to us, which is why when we get scored on it is not just our fault; however, we blame ourselves. The worst part is we know right away what we could have tweaked to save that ball.

Another hard aspect of the goalie experience is the competition. Unlike field players, there is only one goalie in at a time. It is hard to share the spotlight with your teammate and stay warm to go in whenever the coach wants you to rotate. I do not just mean staying warm physically, mentally this can be just as or if not more daunting. This past year I split playing time with my teammate. I always played second half and she always played first. Sometimes it was hard to stay mentally prepared to hop into net. I could relax during the first half, but I could not relax too much and become lethargic. Most of us have endured this situation and can attest to its’ difficulty.

In addition to playing time, we are isolated from the team many times to focus on drills and skills specific to our position. This is the curse of all specialized positions. Initially, this can cause bonding with the team to be more difficult due to the lessened amount of time we get with the team as a unit. We have to insert ourselves into an already cohesive group. Just like us, field players have their own language and inside jokes, which can make us feel further isolated.

We experience all these additional obstacles, yet we push through them. Goalies’ relentless pursuit of success is something no one can take away. There is a lot of pressure on us from the team, coaches, parents etc. This pressure would deteriorate most, but goalies use this pressure to elevate their game. We are strong and natural leaders due to our role as the commander of the defense. All of this and more is why next time someone says, “You do not look like a goalie,” I am going to look them in the eye and say “That is too bad. I would love to look like a powerful, motivated and strong-minded individual.”

For some Bo$$ goalie saves watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNBBL90Xxbk

Epoch Women Author

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