Lauren Hannani culture editor
Playing lacrosse goalie can be a rough task. Preventing the ball from going into the goal while shielding your body from the ball at the same time is only an overview of what the position entails. However, for junior Henry Grote, it’s just the fun activity he’s been playing since he was a little kid.
Living in Maryland at the time, Grote began playing lacrosse in third grade and later started practicing as goalie in sixth grade. Although he started playing the sport because of his friends, he admits that he doesn’t know what got him interested in the goalie position.
“Honestly, there’s no real good reason,” Grote said. “I think it might just be the adrenaline rush before you get hit.”
After moving to Los Angeles a year prior to high school, Grote started out on the JV team freshman year, and later moved up to varsity his sophomore year, where he was named MVP of the team and the second best goalie in Ocean League.
“What’s really impressive about Henry is his fearlessness. He stands tall no matter who’s about to take a shot on him,” coach Kyle Kobe said. “If it’s some of the more skilled players we face or even some of the coaches that we have who will warm him up and take shots on him, he is absolutely fearless in terms of taking shots.”
According to Grote, he developed his skills after many years of experience on the field.
“It’s all practice,” he says. “After you get hit enough, you kind of know what works and what doesn’t…that’s kind of how that goes. In terms of actually saving the ball though, traditionally there are seven positions and you just need to know how to use them and when.”
Although this practice comes with many injuries, Grote has learned to deal with the rough part of the sport over the years as well.
“I kind of just live with it. I say, ‘This is going to be hurting me for the next two weeks’ or whatever, and I just move on,” Grote said. “Obviously, I use ice, heat pads–the whole shebang–but in terms of actually dealing with the pain, it’s just moving on.”
Grote’s teammates are grateful for his efforts in playing for the team and making sure the ball does not go into the goal.
“Having Henry there is a huge help because I don’t have to get hit all of the time,” senior Kenny Villanueva said. “Even if I mess up or slip up, I know Henry’s going to be there to save it and save the day because he’s a god.”
Kobe also believes that Grote is an admirable team member in the way he is willing to sacrifice his body to win a game.
“What Henry brings is that selflessness where he’s going to do everything in his power to put our team in a better position to win, and I think other players feed off of his efforts,” Kobe said. “When other people see him going hard and taking the abuse that he takes, I think it makes players want to go that much harder to find success for themselves.”
Through playing lacrosse, Grote feels like he has learned skills that he can use outside of the game as well.
“In terms of how I’ve grown as a person, [playing lacrosse] is definitely a lot of pressure, and I think I’ve learned how to cope with that much better since becoming a goalie,” he said.
Although he does not know yet whether he will be playing on a lacrosse team in college, Grote is positive that he will definitely continue playing goalie.
“Lacrosse is a very skill-oriented sport, more so than others because your actual physical fitness and shape is less important than your ability to work with a stick,” he said. “I’m a much better stick and ball handler in the goal than I am outside of the goal, and since I want to play at a higher level, I can’t do that if I’m not goalie.”
However, Kobe is confident that Grote is and will continue to be a successful lacrosse player.
“One of his unique skills is that he had a lot of experience with lacrosse before high school and that gave him a foundation, so when he got here he was beyond the basics,” Kobe said. “He was learning some of the more elite skills in lacrosse, and you can see that his exposure at a young age led him to be a standout on our team.”