Alex Vander Molen of Ohio State is the type of player coaches want to build teams around. She’s unapologetically positive about the challenges that come her way while always looking on the bright side, aiming for rapid self-improvement. Yet she’s also self-humiliating and quick to admit she’s “oddly not that athletic” and never expected to play a college sport. According to Alex, it’s her hardwork and year-round dedication to stick skills that helped set her apart.
A 2x captain and 4x State Champion during high school in Michigan, Alex played attack in thirteen games during her freshmen season for the Buckeyes in 2017. She racked up 21 total points, including 12 assists – third best on the team. She even had a 6-point game against Cincinnati with five assists that day. This year she was was forced to take this season off due to ongoing shin-splints.
She hasn’t let her injury deter her. Instead, she’s used the setback as a chance improve her lacrosse IQ and overall understanding of the game. Alex Vander Molen was on the sideline next to her coaches throughout the 2018 season helping her team dissect plays.
It was a tough season for the Ohio State Buckeyes overall – one which some may look at as a re-building year – but there is a shiny silver lining according to Alex, and that’s this entire experience. After this year, every player will be more prepared for what’s to come next season when the team sets its new goals.
Alex has four years of eligibly she’s looking forward to using as she strives for a Big Ten title and a piece of that elusive national championship trophy. I had the chance to sit down and talk with her about her path to Ohio State, and today I’m pleased to share her story with the worldwide lacrosse community.
1v1 with Alex Vander Molen
LAS: How did you get introduced to lacrosse?
Alex Vander Molen: My neighbors played boys lacrosse. They had a bunch of sticks in their garage, and we’d always play catch outside. I never played otherwise, but in the 3rd or 4th grade I received a flyer about girls lacrosse. I didn’t know there was a difference between the boys and girls game or the sticks they use, but when I told my neighbors I was going to play they filled me in.
My dad bought me my first stick for $20 at MC Sports in Grand Rapids. It was a terrible stick. One day when I was in 5th grade, my dad told me that he’d let me pick out my dream lacrosse stick if I scored in a game.
I scored a goal that game, went home, and went straight online to find the best stick on the market. I think it was the STX Zen at the time. I got to pick the pocket colors, orange and black for my high school team. Receiving the stick was one of the happiest moments of my career, honestly. I would come home from practice every day in high school and literally clean my precious lacrosse stick because that’s how much it meant (and still means) to me.
LAS: Why did you choose to go to Ohio State for college?
AVM: I actually didn’t want to go to Ohio State. I was like, “Mmm, I don’t know about that. I’m a huge Michigan fan.” But my dad told me I might as well go on the visit. He was like, “what a great opportunity! You can’t pass something like that up.”
My dad and I took a road trip to Columbus for my official visit, and I remember not wanting to go. I didn’t wanted to “like” the Ohio State Buckeyes at all. I didn’t even want to consider it.
Then I stepped on campus for the first time, and everything change in a single moment. This was the place for me 100%. I knew it. My dad knew it. I was home, and I still am.
It’s so funny now looking back, as our whole family loves Michigan, but now even my two little sisters are committed to play lacrosse at The Ohio State University!
Mackenzie, my middle sister, graduates from the same high school I did later this month, and she’ll be joining me on the team next season. Karrington, the youngest, graduates high school in 2019 and is also committed to the Buckeyes.
LAS: What’s your favorite aspect of playing attack? Why did you choose the position?
AVM: I used to play middie in high school, but I was always offensive minded and assists were my thing. My stick skills tend to give me an advantage, and as I got to college I realized how much I love feeding from X.
I think the best part of playing attack is that the ball usually has to go through you – especially behind the cage. I love setting up my teammates to score. There’s no better feeling than that!
LAS: How would you describe your experience at Ohio State so far?
AVM: I can’t even imagine a better fitting school for me. If I had to do it all over again, I’d always choose Ohio State. Academically, I love the competitive nature of my classes and being at a Big Ten school. I’m close enough to home, but also just far enough away. Freshman year we lived in dorms with the whole class together, and the sophomores who lived in dorms were also nearby. We became one big family right from the start. I roomed with Emily Skrzypczak who plays defense and just finished up a great season. This year we have suites that we share with 5 other roommates. Three of mine are on the team, and two are students into different activities. It’s kind of a nice dynamic.
Our whole suite was big into football this season. We didn’t miss a home game. We also have some buddies on the men’s volleyball team, so we go to those games all the time. Jaclen Moxley and I love eating at Mad Mex, a mexican restaurant near campus.
LAS: What steps did you take in your recruiting path to get to Ohio State?
AVM: When I was in 8th grade, I was working out with Andi Raymond who was older and played at Towson. I started doing private lessons with her, and one day she told me she thought I had a chance to play at an elite level. I’d never really played out of State or had any competitive experience, but hearing that got me totally amped. I went home and told my parents about it. They didn’t play college sports, but they wanted to support it and jumped on board to help me make it happen. of course being from Grand Rapids right outside of Ann Arbor, my dad has always been a huge Michigan football fan. He drove me everywhere throughout my high school career, he kind of had to switch sides when I ended up in Columbus!
LAS: What high school lacrosse experiences helped position you for the division I level?
AVM: The high school I went to, Rockford in Grand Rapids, was really into athletics and a very competitive place. There were about 800 students in my graduating class, so to make a sports team and stay on that team, you had to be committed even at a young age. My experience with my high school team and playing lacrosse competitively year round prepare me for new situations like the Northstar Invitational and starting my collegiate career at Ohio State.
I also think the Northstar Invitational really helped me improve my game because I got to play alongside Division I recruits headed to schools like Northwestern. It’s an invite only event and opened up my eyes to the commitment level required to see athletic gains – stick work, strength training, and overall mental preparation. The event was incredibly competitive, and that’s what kept me coming back every year. I attended three summers as a high school player and have coached there each summer the past couple of years.
LAS: What advice do you have for the next generation of women’s lacrosse players following in your footsteps?
AVM: As long as you work really hard – regardless of your actual athletic ability – you can make it happen. If you’re willing to put the time in, to commit and work as hard as you possibly can all the time, every time, you can succeed in reaching your full potential. As you get older and enter college, it can be a bit intimidating and it’s easy to get down on yourself. If stay positive and look at the bright side of your experiences each day, you can be successful in college as both a student and an athlete.
Thank you for your time, Alex Vander Molen! Keep growing the game!