Munoz: Treating the Statistics Headache
If there's something I have learned from writing these blogs, it is that one common theme tends to pop up — my head. I have found that it's not something that is fixed overnight but one that takes time and effort to change. Every so often I find myself writing about how I let my head get the best of me, and I found it doing so the past few games. Almost every goalie strives for the 50/50 mark on their save percentage I would assume, since that is the standard for a great goalie. Over the past few games I have witnessed that number slowly drop below that average, and questions have been forming in my head, like am I not really great after all? After all of my hard work and dedication, is it all to be just OK?
And then Denver happened.
In case you haven't seen the stat sheet from our loss against Denver, I had one singular save in the game. I have never had only one save in a game in my life. That feeling after that game is one that I will not forget. Yes, if you ask anyone that knows me you will know I'm usually pretty hard on myself, but this was a new low. I could see in everyone's face the disappointment especially from my teammates and coaches. As the senior goalie, and three-year starter I'm supposed to be the one they can count on no matter what to do my job. I'm going to be honest; I sulked for a solid while after that one, probably being twice as harsh on myself than anyone else would have. Letting go of that game was really tough. But with a clear head after spending the day in Monterey with my dad, I came to a realization.
It's that my greatness as a goalie is not defined by a save percentage. Yes, one might argue that stats don't lie, and maybe my save percentage won't hit 50 percent, but greatness is so much more than a statistic. So many goalies, and I'm sure players at all positions, get stuck in this headache of statistics. That is why I am doing what I should have done from day one, which is to not even look at it until the season is completely over.
To me, being a great goalie is so much more than that one stat. It's things like being reliable, a trustworthy teammate, someone who will pick others up, knows what went wrong on a scoring play, works as hard as they can, and has the most positive attitude on the team. Those are only a few attributes, but I know that if I do those things, I will be great no matter what.
I think in some ways I have achieved greatness already. For example, when I first came to Stanford I was 15 pounds more than I am now, and on the first day of lacrosse we just ran for practice that ended with me having to be pulled by different teammates to each line so I would make the full field suicide run in the time the coaches required. Afterwards I vividly remember crying on the phone to my parents wondering how I could make it through four years. (Don't worry potential college players reading this, all practices aren't like this.) Now in my senior year, I passed our run test on the first try, and was able to keep up with some field players during preseason training (I even beat some of them! :) ). That is for sure great, and I'm still in shock about it.
We had our senior day over the weekend and I think something was implemented into the game that I was also lacking in my previous play — fun! I don't think I smiled more before, during, and after a game like I did in awhile. This thing we do gets so serious so quickly, it sometimes can be all consuming. I think also in concentrating on the statistics I was losing my sense of enjoyment in the game (whoever knows me knows this is usually a ton!). I have loved playing this game since I was five years old, which is why I want to continue to coach at whatever level I can because I absolutely love this sport! Some of my best games I remember so vividly because of how happy I was playing. Having senior day and reminiscing on this definitely gave me the perspective I needed to pick up my play since the Denver game.
No one knows what the future will hold, but I do know now that there's more than one way to achieve the greatness that everyone (especially at this school) strives for. I know I shared a lot of personal thoughts about myself, and I just hope I can help someone who might be struggling through my experience. I also know that there is entirely too much lacrosse to be played to even have any doubts about this season or where this team is going at all. Our team has become used to the underdog label, and will continue to fight through it no matter what.
If there's anything I know about greatness, it is that this team is GREAT, and I know our greatness will shine through the rest of the season. Especially having senior day a little early, it makes me even more grateful for every day I get to spend playing the game I love and having fun doing it with my teammates. After all, the real world is quickly approaching; I have an interview this week! AH!