Patrick Rodden had no idea what to expect when trying out for the Whittier lacrosse team a few weeks ago. Rodden was just a freshman and knew that the Wildcats had a goalie on their squad. But his tryout impressed coach Brian Richardson enough that he not only made the varsity squad, he also was named starting goalie.
"He's an overall tremendous goalie," said Richardson. "He not only has leadership, determination and the will to win, but he has a great skill level. I have no doubt that he will be one of the better goalies (in the region) in a year or so, I think he already is."
Rodden is backstopping a Whittier program that is in just its second year and is coming off a winless season, going 0-14. The Wildcats wasted no time in surpassing last year's record, picking up the program's first win in just the second game of the season. They followed that up with two more wins just a couple weeks later and stood at 3-5 as of last Thursday.
A main reason for those wins is Ridden, who has been peppered with shots in just about every game. He is averaging 17.5 saves per game, highlighted by his performance against Greater Lowell, when he stopped an incredible 21 out of 22 shots.
The Gazette sat down with Rodden to talk about life on and off the field.
Q: What were your initial goals going into this season?
A: To just get one win. I know that they didn't win a game last year, so I was hoping to get us on the board this year.
Q: Did you expect to start as a freshman?
A: I did not. I heard there was another goalie and, being a freshman, I did not expect that I would get to start over an upperclassman.
Q: What was your reaction when you found out?
A: I was thrilled, but I knew that I was going to be in a good position. I have great teammates and I wouldn't be able to succeed without them.
Q: When did you start to play lacrosse?
A: Since I can remember. I was a little kid, probably about 4 years old. I used to play for Georgetown all the way up to eighth grade and then I came here.
Q: How did you get into playing goalie?
A: There was no one on one of my teams that wanted to play goalie, and I was dumb enough to put my hand up, so I've played goalie ever since. I enjoy it, though.
Q: What is the most difficult part of playing goalie?
A: Taking one in the wrong place sometimes. I don't really look at it as a difficult job. I just look at it as a game and a fun time to relieve some stress.
Q: What's your favorite part?
A: Doing my job right and then getting the win after that.
Q: How hard is it when it seems like teams just keep firing shots at you?
A: I play better when I get a lot of shots at me because it gets me in the mood. If I get five shots in the first quarter and then not a lot of shots for a while, it cools me off, so I like feeling the ball a lot.
Q: What other sports do you play besides lacrosse?
A: I play hockey. I'm a defenseman for the Amesbury-Whittier team.
Q: Do you enjoy hockey or lacrosse more?
A: Lacrosse. I just like being on the field. The ice is fine, but I think the field is just better.
Q: Do you have any family members who play sports?
A: My dad used to play lacrosse all the way up through high school. He was the captain at Beverly High. He got me into the sport.
Q: Why did you choose Whittier?
A: I wanted a vocational background, I wanted to be going in and getting a job and have the extra edge on kids who are in more traditional schools.
Q: Let's do some favorites. What's your favorite band/artist?
A: I don't really have a favorite band. I like hip hop music the most.
Q: Favorite TV show?
A: Ninety Nine
Q: Sports team?
A: Boston Bruins,
A: Mikey Powell, an attackman for the Boston Cannons (professional lacrosse team)
Q: Favorite subject in school?
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The Gazette regularly runs this feature profiling local athletes.