Arguably, Liz Hogan is one of, if not the best goalie to ever play at Syracuse University.Having graduated in 2011, she is still Syracuse's all-time leader in saves (654) and ground balls (179). Hogan was named to the US National Team in the 2015-16 season.
This past Monday, Hogan was asked to take part in one of the webinars that were part of a larger six-part virtual web series hosted by US Lacrosse. The series, titled She Competes, had the aim ofexploring "...some of the issues that impact young girls and women in sports, both as athletes and members of the sports industry," according to Inside Lacrosse.In the web series, she was a panelist for the second webinar of the first night of the series, titled "Keys to Confidence for Female Athletes." The webinar went live on Monday, September 28 at 6 p.m. EST.
From my own experience as a female athlete and goalie, I can attest to the fact that it is an extremely difficult task to always maintain your composure during high-pressure situations. Yet somehow, it seems that Hogan has mastered the art of remaining calm while appearing confident. Even outside of the pipes, Hogan has always presented a fearless front. Often, Hogan speaks out on her Instagram about social issues that are important to her. Last Monday, we got to take a more in-depth look into her mindset as a long-time goalie and member of the lacrosse community.
Hogan didn't disappoint.
Most people know that Hogan is a lacrosse player, but here's what you might not know. Outside of her role as an athlete on the US National team, Hogan's full-time job is as a PE teacher for grades K-4. In addition to that, she is also a sixth grade advisor, which she describes as one of her roles that she enjoys the most.
"You just keep track of them grade-wise, but also mental health-wise," Hogan said. "Really just being their person as they get through middle school which is obviously a very trying time," Hogan said.
She also has finished her masters up as of last December. Her masters is in Arts in Education. She also has graduate certificates in sport coaching and leadership and online teaching and learning, a certificate that ended up being even more useful than she ever would've thought after the pandemic hit.
After her panelist discussion on confidence within athletics, a part of me still wondered whether that confidence came from external sources or within. She said that both played a part. Externally, it was the people surrounding her on the field who really fueled her confidence.
"It was through sports [developing her confidence] in a sense, but it was probably more so through my teammates and coaches," Hogan said. "There's a ton of failures being an athlete, but it's your teammates and coaches who really show you that you're capable of doing whatever the task is at hand."
One coach who she mentioned specifically as someone who boosted her confidence was Reggie Thorpe.
"Reggie was the first coach that really tried to instill that confidence and made it feel personal," Hogan said. "He had that special ability to connect with people that wasn't always lacrosse-related."
Some of her confidence in athletics, however, also came from within. Hogan was playing particularly well in her junior year at Syracuse, and she describes the feeling of having a high confidence level between the pipes.
"I felt like nothing could go wrong, even when a shot went it, I would just shake it off a lot easier," Hogan said. "So having that confidence, having that mental strength, I think it is so important as a goalie. You are going to get scored on, it is a matter of how you are going to respond to that."
And she's right. It may sound abstract to someone who has never been through it, but having a high level of confidence has a direct influence on your ability as a goalie to save the ball. As humans, we are biologically hardwired to move out of the way of objects coming towards that we know present an imminent danger. So really, as goalies, we are asking our body to go against its natural instinct to protect us. It's not always easy.
When you're confident in the cage, your hands are looser, your shoulders are relaxed and comfortable instead of scrunched and tensed up. These things make it more likely that when the hard, fast, yellow ball comes flying at you, you'll be able to quickly react to the ball and make the stop, instead of freezing up.
Part of the reason that Hogan played so well her junior year is because she was loose. Because even when a shot when in, it didn't phase her and she was quickly able to acknowledge the goal and move on to the next play. That being said, like anything else in life, confidence levels fluctuate. Hogan's high level of confidence her junior year decreased once she graduated, because she was going through something that most every athlete feels post-graduationa loss of identity.
"Honestly, I think that was the hardest journey of my life, that first year or so out of college," Hogan said. "Because you don't have that routine, you don't have your thirty-five best friends around you, you're not playing in games, it just seems like everything is falling apart."
Somewhere along the way, though, Hogan came up with a phrase to help get her through the times that challenged her, and when she said it in the panel, it quickly became the phrase of the night:
"Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo."
As goalies, Hogan and I are no stranger to bruises, but what was the difference in viewing them that way versus as tattoos? Her answer: the permanence factor.
"You get bruises [as a goalie], and I swear those bruises attract more bruises...so sometimes it can be even more painful, but eventually, they go away...at the end of the day, you're going to be okay," Hogan said. "Whereas I feel like a tattoo, you can't escape that, and I don't think failure has to be that way."
In essence, Hogan's mindset encourages people to view failure as something that won't last forever. Although it can be incredibly painful while going through it and, in her words, it "knocks the wind out of you," it is something you can recover and grow from. It is something that eventually, if dealt with and worked through, can go away. It can be something that you learn from, and then move on from.
And while it may be easy to look at someone like Hogan, a standout goalie at Syracuse and a current goalie on the US Lacrosse team and think that she has it all, she has definitely overcome her own fair share of failures. She was cut twice from the US team before she finally made it her third time. The year she made the team, she missed the world cup because there were three goalies and she was the first goalie cut. Prior to landing at Syracuse, she was not heavily recruited by many schools leading up to that point. However, she explains that with her mindset about failure, she knew she would be able to overcome all of the obstacles she was facing, even if they seemed difficult to deal with while she was working through them.
"With a mindset that you know you're eventually going to recover, like soaking that in, embracing the pain, learning from the lessons, you're just going to come out of it a stronger person," Hogan said.
While much of overcoming these struggles was due to Hogan's personal development, she said she couldn't have done it without the support of her family, her fianc, and last but not least, all of the people in orange who supported her along the way.
"It all started at Syracuse," Hogan said. "I can say without a doubt if I didn't go to Syracuse and if I didn't have Reggie and Gary I don't think I would be where I am today. It all starts with the coaches that really have that impact on your life."
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