Q&A with MLL Goalie Scott Rodgers
By Coach Damon on July 25, 2016
Scott Rodgers is a beast. At 6’4″ 250+lbs he’s built more like a middle linebacker in the NFL than a lacrosse goalie. But he’s dominate in the cage.
His Twitter profile pic is this and I’m pretty sure it’s drawn to scale.
At Notre Dame he led the Fighting Irish to an improbable run to the national championship game in 2010. As an unseeded team they knocked off the #6 seed Princeton, then the #3 seed Maryland, then the #7 seed Cornell and finally lost to Duke in the championship in overtime. Rodgers only allowed 6 goals the entire game.
Scott Rodgers is now a member of the MLL’s Ohio Machine and still a lacrosse nut and one the most dominate goalies in the game.
I haven’t had the chance to talk to the Big Rig yet and hopefully one day I can. So I’ve consolidated this list of questions and answers from around the internet. For his answers from the podcast I paraphrased a little bit but still captured the general idea of his answer.
Scott Rodgers is very active on Instagram and his feed is definitely worth following.
So here we go, questions and answer time with Scott Rodgers.
Question and Answers with MLL Goalie Scott Rodgers
How old where you when you started playing lacrosse?
What was it that drew you to lacrosse? You obviously had the size and athleticism to play any sport and be successful, so why did you choose lacrosse?
SR: When you love a sport, it’s easy to do. It’s easy to go to practice.
I played football and basketball in high school. Football was something I was good at, not great. I got a few D1 offers for football.
But if I could play for lacrosse and relieve a financial burden from my parents with a scholarship. Why not? Why not put all my energy into lacrosse?
Very early on I set a goal for myself – get a lacrosse scholarship. And I think that goal helped me stay focused. Focused throughout youth, into my empire team, into high school, and finally into college.
When was it that you started to take those official visits to Notre Dame? And what other schools were in the mix?
SR: So I got my 1st letter in high school. I was a freshman at MacArthur and I remember Coach Ferguson, my high school head coach told me to come to his office.
He had an envelope in his hand, it was from Maryland and it said “Scott Rodgers, you have been selected to come to our recruiting day”.
This is huge I thought, I was only in 9th grade and hadn’t even started the season yet. But I went to have a good career – I was a 4-time all County and 2-time All-American at MacArthur.
You’re a kid from MacArthur High School in Long Island going to Notre Dame. When you look at the 2 from the outside, they seem like polar opposites? What was the experience like?
SR: I remember I had shoeboxes full of letters being a 2-time Long Island Empire team member and that was a great.
It was starting to get to that time where I had to make a commitment. Towards the end of my sophomore year I felt like if I could get this done it would relieve a little stress on me and my family. At the time it was consuming my life.
I never went to any goalie camp. I never learned to play goalie from somebody else. But I always had my own way of doing things.
My top 4 schools were – Maryland, Syracuse, Johns Hopkins, and Notre Dame who was the dark horse.
Pat Walsh was a Notre Dame player and my Dad for Pat’s Dad at Riker’s Island Prison. Mr. Walsh was always telling my Dad hey you gotta check out Notre Dame, it’s on the rise.
I remember going on my visit with my Dad. I went to a practice. I met the coaches. I knew right then and there, everything felt right. This environment for academics and athletics is great. I won’t have this opportunity anywhere else.
I felt like I could leave Notre Dame a better person, a better player, and with some connections for life that’d I could only get at Notre Dame.
So you get to Notre Dame, you play a little but not much, you red-shirt your Junior year. That decision was made so you could be the starter for two years, right?
SR: Yeah, once [current Notre Dame goalie] Joey Kemp got his 1st All-American I talked with the coach about my plan and we discussed red-shirting a year but still competing hard.
We would scrimmage for the last 10 minutes of every practice and I would remember that being my show time, my time to shine.
If it’s 3-2, if it’s 2-1, if it’s 4-3, if I keep it close or beat him its a victory for me. Those small victories, they might not add up and he’ll never get replaced but it builds the coaches confidence in me.
So they know when he leaves we’ll be in good hands.
That along with weight lifting. People who know me know I’m a lacrosse strength and condition coach. That hobby got me through a tough time at Notre Dame when I was not playing all.
I never wanted to be a cancer to my team. I never wanted to be a distraction.
If you talk to Joey, I’ve always been a good friend. We still talk to this day. But on the field we wanted to kill each and compete like it was the national championship game.
What advice would you give to young goalies that are looking to improve their leadership on the field?
SR: I think you just have to be resilient in the cage.
I know it sounds cliché, but in the sport we play , you’re going to get scored on a lot, so having that poise out on the field is huge for a good goalie and leader.
You never want to be that guy out on the field who is throwing a tantrum and smashing his stick, you want to be focusing on making that next save.
You never see guys like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady get rattled on the field because they are two great leaders, so I think that ability to stay calm out there is just what great leaders do.
What does your training schedule look like?
SR: As a strength coach I’m training constantly.
I work out five days a week-both lifting and running, and then I take the weekends off in order to regroup.
I take shots at me about three days a week and this will increase as we get closer to the start of the season.
I really enjoy professional lacrosse because it gives the players a chance to tailor our own workouts rather than being on a strict schedule and being told what to do like in college.
What it comes down to is how much work you put in throughout the offseason. This offseason work will be recognizable when it comes time for the season, those who have trained will show it, while others will be left behind.
Immediately after our season ended, Kyle Harrison told us that we should expect an email from him and sure enough the very next day Kyle had emailed us saying, it was time to get back to work.
As a team, we truly believe that the work in the offseason is the difference between losing in the first round and winning a possible championship.
You’ve been on both sides – playing in the MLL, dominating in games, but you’ve also been the backup goalie – both in the MLL and at Notre Dame. What advice do you have for young lacrosse goalies in the backup role?
SR: When I do camps, I try to tell my whole story. I’ve been a starter and had 14 saves in the 1st half of a championship game. I’ve also been the backup goalie and sat behind great goalies like Brian Phipps.
I want to believe that I pushed him to play at the highest level he’s every played at. I’m not ashamed of backing up those guys.
If you can put your pride aside and keep your eye on the ultimate goal – winning. For your personal success, what can you do better every off-season to put yourself in a better situation to be the starter.
What do I need to work on to make sure someone doesn’t call me a just “system goalie” from Notre Dame. That’s the chip on my shoulder.
I know what the critics say. I’m not one of those guys who tunes them out. I like to use the criticism as fuel in a positive way.
You gotta be a good teammate. You need to be someone who is positive, can joke around when the time calls for it, and can get the attention and respect of your teammates.
How do you feel about what you accomplished last season?
SR: This was my fifth season in MLL and I think that this season especially made me realize how important it is to learn to sacrifice yourself and what you want for the benefit of the team.
I’ve learned to be mentally strong and to be patient.
Playing goalie requires patience because there is only one of you on the field.
The best advice I have ever received and something I needed at the time was from my high school coach, he told me, ‘you gotta stop being a me guy and start being a we guy,’ and from that point on I’ve tried to live by that.
This was probably my favorite team I’ve been a part of, college and professionally, because I absolutely love the guys. There’s no animosity, we all want what’s best for the whole.
What are some of your best MLL memories as you reflect back on your career?
SR: Being traded to Ohio, I remember that year we were 2-12. People think it’s a negative memory but I’ve been a part of the growth to where we are now.
Last year was a very successful year for us. Another step in the right direction. Not exactly what we wanted to end the season with however.
But that’s a great memory for me. Being apart of an organization that was not respected. That’s how I grew up.
I treat this Ohio team like family because it encompasses what I’ve gone through – we went from a team with no respect to a team people thought got lucky with their success and then ultimately last year we solidified our success, talent and respect.
Now we’re looking for the ultimate prize – a championship.
You’re incredibly passionate about the game. Where does that come from?
SR: I think it’s our job as professionals playing at the highest level of the game.
I think it’s our job to pass along the torch to the next generation. The game has given a lot to me and opened a lot doors.
I feel very passionately its our job to give back to the sport for all that’s its done for us.
For me, without lacrosse I would have never had the opportunity to go to a top college like Notre Dame.
What is your pre-game routine?
SR: Listening to music is always my pre-game routine but I really like to find a wall and juggle two lacrosse balls against it to get my hand-eye coordination fired up and ready to go.
I usually go out to the field with my headphones on and play wall ball for about 20 minutes.
Before the game is all about getting mentally prepared because as a goalie you never know what could happen.
Even if I am the backup goalie, I always try to prepare not like a backup but like a starter and go into the game with a clear mind.
But music, music is always important.
In what area of your game are you are you working on the most?
SR: Our film coaches at the Machine have sent us game footage and pointed out all our tendencies.
We all have a lot of natural tendencies, my goal is to attack these weaknesses in the offseason and turn them into strengths during the season.
You know every season you want to find an area that you can get better. Coach Davis is so dedicated to that with film and stats, and you know that if you have a weakness he’s going to find it and break it down and he’s going to let you know about it.
I tell him all the time, he’s brutally honest, and with me I love that kind of coaching and grew up around that.
But this offseason I’m trying to read the shot better and not cheat on the shot, you know I think as pro goalies we try to cheat to get an edge on the shot, but at the same time we have to be true and hold our position in the cage and I think I’m trying to improve that.
Is there a certain shot you need to work on saving?
SR: Hahahaha, nope. I can’t give that away!
Scott Rodgers is one of the best goalies in our sport.
Listening to him talk and reading his interviews its immediately clear why that is the case. The guy is extremely passionate about the sport of lacrosse and playing goalie.
He’s extremely motivated and works his tail off to ensure he’s the best lax goalie he can be.
I hope you pulled out a few pieces of wisdom from this collection of his interviews with MLL goalie Scott Rodgers.
Until next time! Coach Damon