Photo courtesy DU Athletics
Voluntarily subjecting one’s body to a solid rubber ball, facing shots that reach over 100 miles per hour, while wearing the only additional protection of a throat and chest protector, all to protect a six-foot by six-foot and seven-foot deep cage, requires a uniquely-oriented individual.
For the second consecutive season, sophomore goalie Alex Ready earned the starting position between the pipes for the University of Denver Pioneers men’s lacrosse program. Ready, who has never deviated from the goalie position, has developed a twisted love for sacrificing his physical well-being for the scoreboard.
“I would say the biggest difference just from every other position is just kind of the mental aspect of it. It is tough just kind of jumping in front of 100 mile an hour shots sometimes, but I enjoy it,” Ready said. “It’s something I’ve grown to love. You don’t really think about the speed or getting hit with the ball. You just worry about keeping it from going in the back of the net.”
Growing up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Ready wasn’t exposed to the sport until the second grade when one of his best friends began playing and Ready tagged along, “I decided to go out with him. I fell in love with it right away, ” Ready said.
With a surname like Ready, he’s heard all the variations of puns in correlation to his position. Rarely does anyone ever refer to him by his first name. Throughout his career in net, Ready can attest to the commitment the position demands, especially if one isn’t “Ready.”
“I’ve broken my thumb a few times. I’ve been hit in the eye a couple of times during my college career,” Ready said. “Usually the worst are the fingers or toes, those are the most painful. [Overall] I’ve been pretty lucky with injuries.”
At the beginning of his junior year of high school, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound lefty looked at Villanova University, Fairfield University, and Notre Dame before deciding on DU to pursue a communications degree.
“At the time interestingly enough we were looking for a big left-handed goalie,” DU head coach Bill Tierney said. “When I recruited him in his junior year he was like 260-pounds, but he had great hands. When we got him he was like 215-pounds so he lost a little of that girth that he had. He’s the big strong kid that we really liked the way he moved, the way he made saves and the way he saw the field. It was pretty easy for us to see his talent.”
“Obviously, Denver’s a beautiful place. It’s a great place to go to college,” Ready continued. “There’s tons to do. I would say the biggest thing that sold me on Denver would be the coaching staff here. They’re just great coaches, great people and they just care about everyone on the team.”
When Ready entered his freshmen season he was immediately put to the test against senior Joey Gigantiello, juniors Hunter Krout and Ryan Purcell, and classmate David Winsor. While Ready earned the start over his teammates, he quickly was immersed in the intense level of Division l lacrosse.
“It was definitely a tough transition especially going through that first year, you don’t really come in realizing how long of a grind and how tough it is,” Ready said. “It was an adjustment from high school where you’re always the best player on the field to college, where guys are blowing shots by you without even really reacting. Once you get adjusted to the speed of the game and you start to get familiar, the pace of play starts to slow down and you start feeling more comfortable.”
Ready earned 2016 BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year as a freshman and boasted a .518 save percentage with 142 saves and 132 goals allowed. As a sophomore, Ready holds a .498 save percentage with 105 saves, allowing 106 goals in his 13 games. Denver’s goalie status is a little different this season; instead of sporting a surplus like last season, injuries have limited the availability healthy players.
“Thankfully he’s the one who has stayed healthy. I think that comes from confidence and taking care of his body and working as hard as he does,” Tierney said. “Sometimes I think he sees too many shots in practice, so we’ve had to tone him down a little bit. He’s just a hard-working young man. Fortunately for us, of all the guys who have been hurt, our starter hasn’t been. Hopefully, we can keep it that way the rest of the season.”
Ready’s development and maturity as a player translate to his authority that radiates as he leads the Pioneers from the back.
“You can tell by his confidence, Tierney said. “Stopping the shots is very difficult, but being a great goalie includes a lot more than just stopping shots. He’s definitely willing to learn. He’s much more matured and poised than he was a year ago.”
After finishing the 2017 regular season at 11-2, 5-0 BIG EAST and earning their fourth consecutive BIG EAST regular season championship, the Pioneers play Marquette for the second time in six days. DU beat the Golden Eagles 16-8 on April 29 in the regular season finale.
“I think right now the biggest thing is just taking it one game at a time,” Ready said. “Last year I think we got ahead of ourselves a little bit and looked ahead into the NCAA tournament towards the later round of the tournament instead of worrying what was ahead in front of us. This is a great opportunity. We just played Marquette this past weekend and here we are, we have to go play them tomorrow. I think everyone’s minds are in the right place. No one is getting ahead of themselves. Once we get this one we’ll think about the next one.”