Column: The life of a sitting duck
Goaltender Kyrn Stoddard lifted up the leg of his shorts to show me a bruise. Colored like a mottled version of the Colombian flag and laid out like a lake on a map, the shiner looked fresh. He told me it was pretty faded at that point.
It didn’t help my nerves.
On April 19, the Grand Valley State men’s club lacrosse team welcomed me as a walk-on goalie prior to practice. My lacrosse background, you ask? Second-line midfielder on a first-year high school team that went 2-20, or so.
The Lakers are currently ranked No. 8 in the MCLA Division II Coaches Poll, and are opening CCLA tournament play on April 23. They were in midseason form when I showed up. I was in a Gordie Howe jersey and taped-up cleats.
Stoddard lent me his gear, GVSU assistant coach Pat Cain strapped a GoPro camera to my chest, and I stepped in net. After a brief one-on-one warmup to elevate my confidence, the Lakers broke out into a simulated man-up drill, similar to a power play in hockey.
I truly don't recall the results of this drill, but I do not believe I made a save. Cain was streaming the, uh, event on Periscope, so I went back to watch. My positioning, to my eyes, seemed OK. But turning my head and back when a shot came my way? Not so much.
Quickly, we switched into a drill called "quickie buildup," in which two offensive players take on one defenseman, or it goes three on two. We had been going for about 10 minutes before quickie buildup. I was already exhausted.
According to unofficial stats kept by the Lanthorn news editor on the sidelines, the Lakers took 28 shots during the quickie buildup drill. Of those 28, I'm believed to have made seven saves.
Now, I don't want to knock any scorekeepers, but I think we need to go back to the tape to see how the hell someone determined I made seven saves.
Luckily, we have tape. Unluckily, my colorful Laker language had to be edited out of the video, so the final compilation is only about two minutes and 30 seconds long. What can I say? I'm a competitor.
When goalies are hot, or just plain good, they're often referred to as "brick walls." Truth be told, I'm not even sure if it'd be fair to classify me as drywall. Or papier-mâché. Remember in high school when your football team used to run out on the field and tear through the paper sign made by the cheerleaders? That was me. And, much like that paper sign, I accidentally knocked one or two down on the way through.
I snatched one off a bounce. One rocketed off my right ankle. Another just happened to zip right into my outstretched stick. To those lacrosse players whose shots I saved, almost certainly unintentionally, let me formally apologize for the ribbing you got from your teammates.
At one juncture, attacker Erick Sundstrom got a pass a few feet to my left, with the defense nowhere to be found.
Take a moment, and picture the circus act with a knife thrower and his assistant on a rotating wheel, waiting for the knife to be thrown.
Sundstrom deked, faked and played me. I felt like I was spinning around on that circle, without a sliver of control. An accomplished knife-thrower, Sundstrom pocketed the shot over my head while I was nearly prone on the ground. In the video, I believe I called it "demoralizing." Now that I've had time to reflect, I'd probably call it "really demoralizing."
So what did I learn from this experience? I learned how hard it is to track, locate and react to a lacrosse shot. I learned that while I can throw with a players' stick, I certainly can't throw with a goalie stick. I learned that I should stick to basketball. Well, NBA 2K16, that is.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go ice my ankle.