Today I wanted to talk about something that is largely ignored outside of goalies themselves – goalie parents. Being a goalie parent is unique in its own right and just like playing the position can be tough for a number of ways. This was a last-minute idea, and my dad was at work so this is just a conversation with my mom. I think my dad would have similar answers, but I hope some of you will find comfort in knowing that you’re not alone, and find some bits of advice to help you along the way. If you have further questions you’d like to know or their perspectives on certain topics, I’m happy to do a follow-up interview!
What were your first thoughts about me playing goalie?
I really didn’t have too much thought about it initially, you wanted to play and your foot injury when you were younger made it work so I said go for it!
When did you know or see as a parent that I was really excited about and wanted to pursue?
Midget level (4th-6th grade) when people started noticing you were talented.
When and how did you decide on the private lessons?
Someone suggested for me to get private lessons because there’s such a lack of goalie help. Most coaches don’t know the position, especially at a young age. After receiving a recommendation, we found one that could help.
When did you notice I was starting to get better?
You always just loved lacrosse. When you were playing “Juniors” (7th/8th grade) you started playing really well and you wanted to play more competitively so we signed you up for club lacrosse, especially because you wanted to get better before high school.
How would you describe my goalie experience in one word?
Rollercoaster. Through your challenges, you rose above it and worked hard. But had you not faced those tough times you probably wouldn’t have been as good as you were.
It started in middle school when for some reason a coach decided they didn’t like you and tried to put you on a lower team, which didn’t happen, but it was the beginning of the adversity you would face.
During club, you made the lowest team, a goalie on the best team got hurt and their coach came and grabbed you to play with them for the rest of the summer. The next year you worked really hard and made the second team, kept working hard, and made the second team again the following year. You were frequently left feeling so frustrated from all the work you put in. You kept pushing and eventually earned your spot on the top team.
In high school, it was a challenge with the transfer rules leaving you with the only ability to play on the fresh/soph team, and we were worried this would effect recruiting during your sophomore year. But again, you persevered and it didn’t have as much of an effect as we thought.
What was the toughest part about being goalie parent?
When you weren’t having a good game.
I knew how upset you would be because you’re a perfectionist. When you’re a goalie parent and a parent in general, you feel how your kids feel. Also, when the defense would let you down, people don’t realize that it’s just as much the defense’s fault when breakdowns happen. People would make comments, and that’s what I would hate. It was like when you were great, you were great. When you were bad, it was bad, and people generally tend to blame goalies when things aren’t working defensively. As a goalie, your mistakes are amplified, and highly noticeable, whereas with field players their mistakes aren’t as crucial to the game. Even during plays, each field player isn’t always involved. You were always involved in the majority of the playing, coming out on the ride, and on the defensive end, you see every single shot.
Also, it’s tough because even though there are always other goalie parents on your team, most of the time only one of them is playing and you both want your daughters to play. At times, it made me feel uncomfortable.
What would your advice be to help with that?
Tough to say, I just tended to stand by very few people. The girls need a support system, and I think you need to find your best support system too.
The best thing about being a goalie parent?
When you have your teeth clenched, and stomach in a knot, and then your daughter makes a huge save to win the game. The smiles after those games were the best.
Best game you’ve EVER seen me play?
At Bryn Mawr your senior year of high school. Your team was losing at halftime and you had a shutout in the second half and your team won. Everyone was going crazy on the sidelines, it was so fun to watch.
The best advice someone gave us was to take lacrosse out, is that where your child would want to be? Also, could afford the school without lacrosse too? We went through it with your brother, but it was definitely different with you because some coaches only took goalies for certain grad years and since there’s only one goalie usually playing we had to weigh how much actually playing was important and also trying to find the best academic school possible. It was so hard going through it sending you to Stanford first because it had everything, and you kept comparing the other schools to it! Overall the process was both exciting and nerve-wracking, but getting the phone call from Stanford was the best day ever.
Advice be dealing with goalies who were like me who were really upset after bad games?
I would just support you because you were already hard enough on yourself. I never really talked to you about how you were playing. After games, when you were upset you had your process and would watch film and call your goalie coach. Make sure your daughters have a strong support system besides their parents. Mary McNelis (mom of one of my best friends Kelly) would always ask you, “Who’s the best goalie in the world?” and make you answer her after every game that you were. After rough games, the best thing you needed was support and lifting up.
That last point my mom made I can’t restate enough. When we were talking I told her, it was the best thing ever. Both her and my dad would never ever talk to me about how the games went unless I brought it up. They were simply there to give me hugs afterward and always made sure that I knew no matter what, everything was okay.
I’d have to agree that when things go bad, goalies take a lot of the heat from everyone, not just parents. There were always teammates, and other parents in high school and college who were my go-to’s after games that just knew me and knew that I just needed a big hug after bad games. Especially since my parents couldn’t come to every game in college, having that support always meant the world to me.
Thank you, Mom, for chatting with me about this, and thank you to both my mom and dad for everything they have done for me to support me and allow me to follow my dreams of being a college lacrosse player. It clearly wasn't always easy, but you guys always told me to have faith that things would work out if I kept working hard. Thanks for also giving me a kick in the pants sometimes when I needed it to get working when at times I didn't want to or questioned my goals. That day we got the call from Amy Bokker is still one of the best I've ever had because it made everything worth it. :)