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Goalie Nation
 

Feature: Freshman Starter

Name Sean McCoy
Nickname Ohio
College Virginia Military Institute
Major Biology
Height 6'2
Number & why #3, It was the number of the graduating senior. I got stuck with it and it grew on me. 
Hometown Hudson, OH
HS Hudson High School
HSLAX recognition Lettered three years in lacrosse... 2X Defensive MVP…First Team GCHSLL and Second Team All-Ohio selection... 2004 Ohio North Undergraduate All-Star and member of the Greater Cleveland select team…Broke school record for fewest goals allowed (125) and saves (223) in 2005...Led team to State Final Four in 2005...Injured for most of 2006 season, but still named Second Team OHSLA Region III...
College LAX recognition Started every game…MAAC defensive player of the week… MVP of Lee-Jackson Classic … compiled 160 saves
Years played lacrosse 5
Years played goalie 5
Any other positions No
Favorite food Texas Toast
Favorite band Incubus
Favorite book Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Favorite movie Backdraft
Favorite quote “Hard work beats talent, when talent does not work hard” - Anonymous
Shaft / head combination used STX Eclipse w/ Gait Ice or Krypto pro

 

 

Interview with Sean McCoy (VMI)

The VMI Keydets had a less than ideal last season, finishing with a 2-11 record.  However many of these games were kept close by the outstanding play of freshman keeper Sean McCoy, who quickly learned how to put the last goal behind him and focus on the next shot.  Balancing a demanding military academy schedule and D-I lacrosse isn’t for some people, but Sean thrives on the challenge, using his faith and work ethic to drive towards his goal to get VMI to the top of the Mid-Atlantic Conference over the next three seasons.  Constantly aspiring to improve, Sean is a goalie to watch in the coming years.

 

How did you become a goalie and why do you enjoy playing this position?

Ever since I was young I had played goalie in soccer. I wanted to try a new sport in high school and lacrosse was looking for freshman. They needed a goalie and I was just kind of stuck in cage and told to “see ball stop ball”.

Walk us through the recruiting process that brought you to your school?

As my high school career progressed, the idea of playing in college became more appealing to me. Coming from Ohio (not your typical lacrosse hot bed) and starting so late, I knew I would have odds against me. I took part in several summer recruiting showcases such as Top 205 and Summer Sizzle (St. Paul’s), which opened up doors for playing in college and talking with coaches. I also sat down, wrote emails/letters and created a highlight DVD that I sent out to many schools in DI-DIII. The summer/ fall going into my senior year, I had narrowed my choices to 5 schools. I took official visits to these schools which helped give me a good perspective on the types of schools and lacrosse programs I was looking at. Long story short, after many hours of talking with my family and coaches, I decided that Virginia Military Institute (VMI) lacrosse was where I wanted to be. The opportunity of pushing for a starting job right when I got on the field, a brand new coaching staff that is dedicated and passionate of taking the program to the next level, and attending such a fine institution rich in history and creditability were all things that appealed to me.

What were your goals for lacrosse and life as you entered college?

I’ve always been the type of person who if told I could not accomplish something, I would in fact do it just that just to prove you wrong. I could apply this attitude well to VMI. There were always certain people who doubted me and basically said I wouldn’t succeed at VMI or excel at a high level of lacrosse. I loved the challenge. Some of my goals included putting in the effort and hard work to make it at VMI both academically, athletically, and militarily. I wanted to make a statement. The goal to challenge for a starting job and be apart of a program on the rise was important to me. My faith also had great importance in my life and decision to come to VMI. Without Christ, I knew I wouldn’t be able to succeed. Eventually, I have the desire to pursue a medical career and hopefully be able to make a difference and do something more with my life.

With a season under your belt, what do you think the biggest difference is between high school and college lacrosse?

The first thing that comes to mind is the speed of the game. The concentration level is much more demanding. In college, the way the ball works around on offense, directing and leading a defense, and stopping much more accurate shots on a consistent basis were all things I had to deal with. Being able to communicate and effectively stop offensive plays before they took place was something not as essential in high school.

How did you get the starting job your freshman season?  What was your first game like?

I believe it was the right combination of proper attitude, willingness to learn and develop and just going hard every time I strapped on my helmet. I understood I had a lot to learn but, I did not let that affect how hard I played. I was not afraid to make mistakes or be timid as some freshman college athletes might be labeled. I realized my role and ran with it. I was very nervous my first game. We were playing Hartford at their place. But by the time the whistle was about to blow, I said a quick prayer, did my pre-whistle routine, and was ready. The first shot they took bounced low and away but I got a piece of it and made the save. From that point on, I knew I was able to play at this level.

How do you plan to improve on your performance in last year’s campaign?

Obviously, becoming a better shot blocker is something I chase after. I still have yet to put together that “perfect” game. I don’t think you can ever master this aspect of playing this position. You can always get better, quicker, more technical about saving shots (even if its just one type). Apart from this, I want to take on a larger leadership role not by my words but by my actions on and off the field. The ability of reading the game and directing a defense are two things I want to really emphasize this year. Actually, now that I think about it, I need to improve every aspect of my game. I believe doing extra own work apart from practice, watching film, working hard in the weight room, and understanding that I have room for improvement are all ways that will help me become a more effective and game changing goalie.

How do you handle the mental aspect of the position?

The mental aspect of playing goalie is one thing I don’t feel very many people (aside from goalies themselves) grasp. I always used to get comments like, “why are you tired, you’re a goalie…” or something of that nature. However, I believe goalie is the most mentally, possibly physically demanding position on the field. The ability to come to practice excited about getting shots blasted at you at high velocities and going hard all the time is truly difficult. If a goalie is “not feeling it” or is having an off game, the outcome is amplified in contrast to let’s say an attack man just missing a shot or dropping a pass. The results aren’t as influential. Overall, I try and stay positive at all times. Goalies need to have a short term memory. I was once told, “You’re never as good as your last save, and never as bad as the last goal that you let in”. As I get older and gain more experience, the mental aspect is not as bad. You learn to control emotions and perfect the ability to get yourself in the right frame of mind. It just takes time though. Be patient.

What is the most difficult mental challenge in being a goalie?

Not getting down on your self when things aren’t going well. A mature goalie has the ability to pull themselves out of a rut, motivate and encourage his defense, and regain control of the game. You’re going to let goals in. That just comes with territory. To be a successful goalie, you need some tuff skin and not allow things to get to you too easily. But the key is limiting runs, making saves you are supposed to, and regaining confidence when one gets by you. I like to have the mindset that the shooter just got lucky and it was not his skill that was better than mine. Never give up…keep fighting. People don’t realize how much affect on a team (both their own or opposing) a goalie can have depending on their body language, level of play, communication, demeanor (things like this).

How much effort do you put in to develop your ability?

If you’re not working on getting better, someone else is out there doing just that to take your spot or be better than you. I try and take as many shots as I can. I read articles, watch other goalies, and work on physical aspects. I put a lot of emphasis on vision/ hand eye coordination, jumping rope, flexibility, and footwork/ explosiveness. I’m a firm believer that you get out what you put in. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re this good or you’ll only reach this bar. I realize and I have the desire to always work at getting better and being the best goalie I can be. I just love being in the cage. I’m addicted to making that big save and become a goalie who can take over games.

Did you play any other sports or positions in high school that carried over to the lacrosse field?

Along with lacrosse, I also played soccer all through my childhood. Basketball was something I played up until my junior year when I decided to focus on lacrosse and continue soccer. Being a goalie in soccer helped me gather the skills of proper leadership, communication, some mental aspects, reflexes, and cutting off angles. Basketball helped with quickness, fast decisions and fast feet. I believe that playing multiple sports is something college coaches look for. Don’t just put everything into lacrosse in high school.

Do you do any special activities to prepare for the season from a positional standpoint besides team lifting and running programs?

I try and take as many shots as I can. I also coach several camps throughout the country. I am quite lucky because I have some exceptional shooters that I played with in high school that I graduated with that come home for the summer. Chris Linko (Lehigh), Tim Eagan (UMBC), and Justin Hayes (Herkimer) are all great shooters who help me out while we push each other to get better. I am a very competitive person by nature, so summers are always fun to go out, shoot, and try and frustrate in season competition. Another thing I take part in (funny as it might sound) is a kickboxing class. The cardio workout along with quick feet and reflexes seems to work for me. I also jump rope quite a bit. My younger brother Bryce, also a goalie who is a freshman at Hudson, allows me to have a partner to work on more technical aspects of my game. I work with him and he helps me with wall ball drills, and shooting on me while I have a short stick in my hand.

Describe for our readers some of the techniques and styles you use when you play the position and any philosophies you have about the game.

I am a big goalie so I like to take up as much space in the cage as I can. The biggest thing I stress to aspiring goalies is to step to the ball and be explosive. I love making that big save so I play with a little flash and emotion. I get excited easily I guess… I try and play angles too. Another philosophy, besides stepping, is communicating effectively to prevent an offensive opportunity. Why have to make a save, when you can communicate with your defense and prevent the shot from being taken in the first place. There are so many little techniques but these are the major ones. Just realize you need to find your own style and stick with what works for you. I’m not going to play like the goalie next to me. That doesn’t make either one of us right or wrong.

How was your first year adjusting to life on campus and being away from home?

If you know anything about VMI, it is anything but a normal college. The rigorous freshman year aka the “ratline” is challenging. The team and upperclassmen really helped me out. Especially being a freshman in cage, them encouraging me and knowing they had confidence in me was something I took comfort in. Also learning how to balance my academics, lacrosse, and military life took some time getting used to. And of course, being so far away from home (most of my friends at VMI are from VA) was difficult and lonely at times.

Do you have any other hobbies or interests besides lacrosse that you’d like to share with us? 

What do you do for fun? I’m a big movie buff. I can sit at home if nothing else is going on and just put in one of my favorite flicks. I also am into artwork and I occasionally work with oil paints. Hopefully this summer, I get an internship to shadow a surgeon and get in the OR. I guess you could say I’m sort of a science nerd.

Who has been your greatest role model growing up?

Besides my faith, my parents. I know it’s cliché but, they have always been there for me. They put up with my frustrations when I didn’t play well or my team lost and always seemed to have the right words to say. I wouldn’t be the same without my parents! They’ve taught me to not let anything or anyone hold me back. To be determined and chase after any goals I set for myself.

What are some of your individual and team goals for the rest your college lacrosse career?

The team is first. I always have believed that. However, I realize I need to better my own skills to help the team. For VMI lacrosse, I want to win the MAAC conference and make it to the tournament. I have a goal for this program to rise and make a mark as place for both exceptional lacrosse and academics! We’re not far from it. Individually, I want to press the limit to see how far I can go with lacrosse. I want to compete with myself and not against other goalies in D1. Being the best goalie in our conference is something I strive for. I’m also not objected to the idea that maybe one day, God willing; get the chance to try out for some MLL team. But until then, I have a lot to work on.

Any advice for aspiring goalies?

Keep chasing after what you desire. Whether you desire to be a first team AA and win a national championship, or help your local club team win some games, do whatever it takes and don’t let others tell you otherwise. Watch college goalies, hit the wall, and take shots, take shots, take shots…stay positive and have confidence in your self because being a goalie and making that game wining save is the best thing in the world.

 

Thanks Sean!