Rodgers Comes Out of Cage for Swarm
by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff
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NCAA championships MVP Scott Rodgers is trying to make the Minnesota Swarm's active roster as a defenseman and enforcer.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com
Scott Rodgers has spent a lifetime of lacrosse convincing critics that his size was not the only factor that made him a successful goalkeeper. But as a rookie in the National Lacrosse League, the Minnesota Swarm wants the 6-foot-4, 255-pound Rodgers to embrace his inner goon.
That's why Rodgers was out on the floor, and not in goal, when the Swarm opened training camp last month.
"Basically, all I've got to do is go out there, throw my weight around and just hit people," said Rodgers, a second-round pick in the 2010 entry draft. "If they want to drop their gloves, they better be ready."
It's no lock that Rodgers, one of 33 players in training camp, will make the active roster. Teams must pare down to the league-maximum 23 by Thursday. Minnesota already has two accomplished goalkeepers in Nick Patterson and Kevin Croswell.
Rodgers is trying to make the roster as a defenseman.
"They wanted to get tougher in the offseason. They brought in Rory Smith, one of the best fighters in the league, and they want me to be an enforcer," Rodgers said Friday, before the Swarm broke training camp for an exhibition game against the Philadelphia Wings. "The first day I'm sitting there and there are guys half my size setting back picks, jabbing me in the ribs. That's how the [indoor] game is."
Rodgers, a Wantagh, N.Y., native who starred at Notre Dame and led the Irish to their first NCAA championship game in 2010, has temporarily relocated to Minnesota. He is studying to become a certified personal trainer and strength coach.
Other American players trying to make the Canadian-dominated Swarm roster are Matt Kelly (Virginia), Steve Waldeck (Stony Brook) and native Minnesotan Ryan Hurley (Cornell). The four players have roomed together in camp.
Although he is determined to make the Minnesota roster as a defenseman, Rodgers said he and Swarm general manager Marty O'Neill, a top NLL goalie in the 1990s, have worked on off days with him in goal.
"I stepped in the cage and I couldn't even see my toes looking down, with all that gear on," Rodgers said. "I felt like the Michelin Man."
Rodgers even snapped a photo and sent it to his former Notre Dame teammates, whom he'll face in January as a member of the U.S. national team in a field lacrosse exhibition game at Champion Challenge, a US Lacrosse event in Florida.
"He actually sent me a picture on my phone of him with all the NLL goalie pads on," said Irish midfielder David Earl, a senior who is considering playing hockey after he graduates from Notre Dame. "He is just superhuman."