Rachel Florek is a redshirt freshman goalie at Towson University from Ocean City, MD. She graduated high school from Stephen Decatur High and plans to major in Sports Management. At Stephen Decatur, she helped the Seahawks win a pair of conference championships, earned First Team All-Conference accolades as a junior, was all-conference honorable mention as a freshman and a sophomore. Rachel was a two-time Bayside Conference Champion in both lacrosse and soccer and named to the Brine National Garden State team in 2014 and to the Nike Elite 120 in 2015. She was a three-sport athlete who also helped Stephan Decatur win a Bayside Conference Championship in basketball.
Read more to get to know Rachel!
How long have you been playing goalie?
I have been playing goalie for 11 years.
What’s the hardest part about playing in college?
The most difficult part about playing in college at a high level is the extra work you need to put in to succeed. In high school, once practice with the team was done for the day that was it, I rarely ever did extra work. In college, when practice is over and your exhausted that's when you really need to dig deep and keep going. Staying on the field 15 to 30 minutes every other day, getting extra shots on you from your teammates, or doing some extra conditioning can make the world of a difference and it really makes or breaks a player.
Hardest part about playing goalie?
The hardest part about the goalie position for me is learning to be patient. The goalie position relies greatly on muscle memory, so it takes weeks and reps after reps for your body and mind to learn a new skill. Nothing is fixed overnight.
What is your favorite part about playing the position?
My favorite part about playing the position now is the constant challenge.
Did you face any challenges in high school that affected your play in college?
I was a three sport varsity athlete playing, soccer, basketball and lacrosse, all three years I was in high school. I blew my knee out in a soccer game in the fall of my senior year, tearing my ACL. After my injury I decided to graduate high school early and transfer into Towson for the spring semester. Taking my redshirt year, I had the opportunity to rehab my knee back to its full potential with our great trainers here at Towson, as well as allowed me to get a head start on my academics. Coming back from this major injury was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. It took endless hours in the training room, in the weight room, on the track, and then on field to get me to where I am today. To bounce back from an injury the best thing you can do for yourself is to try and stay positive. You have to take one day at a time, which was extremely difficult for me. You cannot rush the process. To help me get through this hard time, or any hard time for that matter, on or off the field I tell myself that everything happens for a reason.
What’s the best part about playing college lacrosse?
The funnest part about playing in college is being with your best friends every day, we really are one big family.
How do you motivate yourself to stay in shape in the off season?
I really enjoy this question because this is a hard one. A little secret, I chose to play goalie when I was younger because I didn’t want to run a lot. My teammates and I joke about it now because even though I am a goalie I still need to do the same conditioning as the middies, offense, and defense. Playing goalie, you need to not only be in good shape running and conditioning wise, but also be in good, “goalie shape”. Being in good goalie shape is being able to not only run a fast pace mile but also being able to take 4 rounds of rapid fire shooting without a break. To keep myself motivated to stay in shape during the off season I remind myself how I felt the first time I ever had to really condition myself. I was also a goalie in soccer, yes I disliked running THAT much, it was the first day of soccer tryouts my freshman year and we had our running test first thing that morning. The running test involved running a timed mile, then 2 timed hundred year sprints, and then 3 full field suicides. Moral of the story I threw up twice. Ever since that day I have swore to myself to never let myself get in that horrible of shape ever again. So, when I don’t feel like working out or going for a run I remind myself not only of that day but also how far I have came and how far I still have to go.
Was it hard to fit in as a freshman on the team?
Personally for me it was not hard to fit in as a freshman, even coming in mid year all by myself. I am an extremely outgoing person who loves to meet new people, so I was never nervous or anxious about finding my place on the team. But I will say, every team is made up of different personalities and no matter what your personality is you wouldn’t have an issue finding your place on the team.
How do you stay focused in close games?
I stay focused in close games by worrying about myself and only myself. You need to trust your defense and the rest of your team to do their job and only worry about stopping the ball.
What do you do to handle when things aren’t going well in games (like consecutive goals without a save)?
When things aren’t going my way in a game I will usually close my eyes and take three big breaths to calm myself down and reset. I remind myself that, “I’m a star” and that I’ve got this. Being a goalie is all about confidence. You have no believe in yourself no matter what, whether the team just scored one goal on you or ten.
Where do you think you have grown the most in your game from high school to college?
I use my entire body a lot more than I did in high school. In high school my hands were quick enough for me to just rely on them to catch the shot but now in college the shots are so much harder and more well placed I have to use all my power from my legs, shoulders, and hips to catch up to the ball.
What would you tell your younger goalie self now?
Something I could tell myself now when I first was learning how to play goalie would probably be to bend my knees and get my stick down faster for low shots… I had/still am learning that the hard way. My legs are so banged up now I have to wear a special foam paid on my left shin.
I have to be singing and dancing to every single song that plays while I am getting ready.
What makes you weird?
A lot of things actually, I am a goalie… but one weird thing might be that my goalie coach and I are “writing” this hypothetical book called, “Crazy things Flo says”, because I just say the most random/crazy/weird/not so smart things all the time but mostly during the worst times possible. Another fun fact is that everyone mostly just calls me Flo… not Flo from progressive but Flo as in FLO rek.