Many of you casual sports fans may wonder what happens to Washington-Grizzly Stadium after the football season, and even if you don't, just shut up and humor me for a second.
When football hits the offseason, Montana lacrosse kicks into gear. I have to admit, lacrosse is a sport that has flown under my radar; I really know nothing about the game, and it shows.
Out on the turf of Wa-Griz, Montana assistant lacrosse coach Will Freihofer helps deck me out in pads that he ordered his players to let me borrow. I grab a stick with a little net thingy on the end and try and carry the ball around. This proves insanely difficult, as I'm not doing enough "cradling" or "rocking" or something like that.
Whatever. Why walk when you can run, I figure, and jump right into the action. The team and I decide on a little simulated game play. A defender and a goalie stand between me and my goal.
Too easy, I decide. So in steps Hank Sulzbacher, a burly foe of a man who seems way too excited for a chance to break me in half. I swoop around the net hell-bent on finally scoring. Sulzbacher throws his mass into my side, literally tossing me into the air.
"Can you do that again?" one of my cameramen asks. "I didn't get that."
It's so hard to find good help these days.
I make my swoop — again — this time a little slower and little more bruised. And again, Sulzbacher defends his net, cross-checking me into oblivion. I would describe my own clobbering in deeper detail, but I feel I may have blacked out right about this point.
I get up, slowly, and call off the defense. It's time to switch things up and I take the net from goalie Calen Mehrer. Goalie pads aren't all that protective it seems, with just a thin chest plate, elbow pads and helmet. Oh yeah, and a cup, which I reluctantly also had to borrow (not my proudest moment). They insisted.
A flurry of players wing lacrosse balls at my face, most of them either going in or violently striking my body. As soon as the shots come, I immediately forget all the tips Mehrer gave me about net positioning and blocking and go with my instincts.
Unfortunately, my instincts tell me to shrink away from rubber bullets – stupid instincts.
"That's why most people don't want to play that position," Freihofer says. "It's crazy."
Following my bludgeoning, I half jog and half limp to the sidelines. It seems a club team is much more willing to get physical with a skinny sports writer than Montana's NCAA sports. They're probably less worried about getting sued when I inevitably end up in the hospital. Either that or these guys were just particularly blood thirsty.
I hurt in most places and am bleeding in five (the first spilled blood of the AJ Versus season, hello street cred). My welt marks really complement that giant bruise /scrape/boo-boo that runs clear from my right shoulder to my elbow. Actually, my arm is starting to swell up pretty nicely already, making my bicep look way bigger than it actually is. It's even starting to look like I lift weights, am I right ladies?