Sooner Lacrosse Goaltender Nick Johnston: Goalies man, are they all the same?

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Naturally, if you ever read this blog from time to time, you know I focus on Oklahoma Sooners hockey and the Western Collegiate Hockey League conference member teams. I also however, follow the Oklahoma lacrosse team, and am more than proud to photograph and write ,whenever I can, about them. The team made major moves in the off season, as well as coming out of the gate on fire, boasting a 6-0 record here at the start of the season.

Most people I know are hockey people, so I was thinking this might be a fun way to introduce lacrosse to some fans who might enjoy “hockey on grass”. Agree or disagree, I find similarities in the two. Except one let’s you whack one another with sticks. And it’s even faster.

Hockey goalies are my favorite player on the ice, so I was curious about what is a lacrosse goalie, and wondered about any similarities between the two. Getting hit by a puck sucks, but getting hit by a lacrosse ball? With no padding? Yea…..that’s another level.

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I asked Nick Johnston, the Sooners sophomore goaltender, to humor me and answer a few fun questions:

What got you into lacrosse, specifically the goaltending position?  What led you to OU? 

 

I am from Denver Colorado and lacrosse is a much bigger sport out in Colorado. I started to play lacrosse when I was in the third grade.  I grew up playing with all of my friends and it ended up becoming the one sport that we all stuck together and played together throughout high school. I had never really played goalie until my senior year of high school.  We ended up not having a goalie my senior year so I stepped up and played.  Lacrosse is by far my favorite sport because of all the action.  Lacrosse is said to be the “fastest sport on two feet” and I truly believe this.

Coming to OU was very random for me. I thought that I was going to go play lacrosse at Marquette University, but when I switched to goalie my senior year that option began to fall through the cracks.  Once I realized I no longer was going to go to school for lacrosse I started to look at schools in the South.  I came to visit OU because my college counselor suggested it and I immediately fell in love when I visited the campus.

Are lacrosse goalies as “weird” as hockey goalies? 

I am not sure if hockey goalies are “weird” but lacrosse goalies definitely are.  Growing up I would always say that goalies have a screw loose somewhere.  You have to have something “weird” about you to stand in front of a 90mph ball being shot directly at you.

Do you have a ritual for your gear? Pregame meal, etc superstitions? I guess I could ask,
is it an lax thing like it is in hockey?

I have a couple different rituals.  Before every game I re-tape my stick except for one part.  I like to have the old worn down tape on one part of my stick.  For some reason every single time I put on my helmet I leave one of my straps unbuckled.  I don’t know if that’s a luck thing for me or a superstition but, it has been working this year starting of 6-0. BOOMER SOONER!!

Would you be willing to stop a hockey puck? In your gear or in hockey gear? 

I have never fully played hockey so I don’t know if I would or not.  I definitely don’t think I would in my lacrosse gear because I have so much less padding than a hockey goalie does.  If you put me in hockey pads I would 100% hop in that goal.  In my opinion, if you can play goalie in one sport you can play it in another.  Playing goalie has a lot to do with courage and having the will to stand in front of a flying or soaring object moving extremely fast.  Once you can get over that fact playing goalie becomes much more fun and much easier.

Is a lacrosse goalie the one who helps define a Teams’ character or would you say it’s another position? Or, is it an entire team effort that creates the character of the team?

I think that the character of the team is really a full team effort and that it can not be put solely on the goalie. In lacrosse the goalie is the captain of the defense. We are able to see the entire field and have to tell the others what is happening away from the ball. A goalie will definitely help add to the character as goalies are normally the “weirdest” of characters but, it really is a team effort. Last year our team did not have as strong of a bond as we have this year and I think that really helps us build a strong character for our team.

How’s it feel to be 6-0, coming off of what would be considered a pretty big fresh start all around for the team this year?

Starting of my college career as a goalie and being 6-0, what else could I ask for?  This team has been completely revamped this year.  It all started when we hired our new head coach Mario Enea.  Coach Mario has brought this team from one of the bottom contenders to possibly being one of the top in our division.  We as a team are fired up and ready to continue the season this weekend against SMU and hopefully end up 7-0 by the end of the weekend.  The team needed a fresh start and we certainty found one this year.  The team is closer together, we are working harder, and most of all we are winning.

Let’s talk about the new playing field. Just how full of stickers is it? But seriously, it’s a nice large space and accommodates a lot more fans. How much does that fire the team up hearing the cheering?

Having fans come out to our game makes a huge difference.  It is a lot more fun for the players when we have fans out there cheering for us.  The rowdier the better!! When we make a big play and hear the fans cheering we get more into the game. We haven’t had many fans in the past and seeing more and more fans showing up has been a huge part of our success!
Thank you Nick for your time!

This upcoming weekend, March 5th, the Sooners will host last season’s Lone Star Alliance (MCLA) conference champion, Southern Methodist. This game is the last game for the Sooners before a three week break. The outcome will also determine who sits at the top on the LSA north and obviously be important for playoff implications.

At the conclusion of the OU and SMU game, members of Chickasaw stickball will be bringing an exhibition game to Norman:

This is an exhibition game to promote our traditional game of stickball. It is going to be divided up into two teams consisting of both Men and Women. It is going to be a real game, but players from different teams are going to split up. We have a red team (East) and we will have a black team (West). So it is an East vs West. 

In the old days women did not play except for in social games. In today’s time we have allowed women to join us on the field of battle as we call it because there are women in our military that fight for our freedom just as well as the men do. This makes them warriors also.

– Jeremy (J-Wall) Wallace: Chickasaw Toli’

Sooners lacrosse games are held at the University of Oklahoma IM Fields located on the corner of Stinson St. and George Ave. Faceoff at 1pm.
We are already at four home games remaining on the schedule, really only two days and one weekend, of lacrosse. March 26th is a double-header meet, the Sooners hosting Ole Miss at 11am and TCU immediately following.
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