Editor’s note: We’re back with another installment of our Wolf of the MCLA series! Thanks to the support of Wolf Athletics, we’re selecting, interviewing, and honoring impressive student-athletes who are competing in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association throughout the 2015 college lacrosse season. Each new member of the “Wolf Pack” will receive a Ghost shaft as an award for his accomplishments. We hope you enjoy![mks_separator style=”solid” height=”4″]
Help us to welcome another sophomore goaltender into The Pack, Gozaga’s Gaelen Murray. Although he is only in his second season season with the Zags, Gaelen has already earned the respect of his team and coaches along with the entire PNCLL.
Already at 2-0 in the PNCLL North, this young goalie is doing every he can to drive his squad one step closer to the national tournament. Winning the spot as the PNCLL Freshman of the Year for Division II should tell you that this kid means business. His best game so far in 2015 coming in a 16-8 win over Washington State when Gaelen made a season-high 16 saves.
On and off the field, Gaelen is the perfect model for what a college lacrosse player should be. This exemplary leader seems to have the school-lax-life balance pretty well figured out, we look forward to following this Wolf of the MCLA for years to come![mks_separator style=”solid” height=”4″]
Gaelen Murray – Wolf of the MCLA
Full Name: Gaelen Murray
Key Stats: PNCLL 1st Team All-Conference Goalie, PNCLL Freshman of the Year
College: Gonzaga (MCLA Division II)
High School: Beaverton (OR)
When you aren’t playing lacrosse, what are your hobbies off of the field?
Cooking is a great way to relieve stress and make sure that I’m eating healthy. Hiking and being outdoors has always been a lot of fun, especially growing up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. The hobby that I’ve picked up most recently has been writing in a journal.
It’s a good way to reflect and stay grounded. I also have to make sure that I’m doing more stuff that’s worthy of writing down in the journal, so that cuts out a lot of time in my day that would otherwise be spent idly watching Netflix. It’s easy to stay glued to your phone nowadays so any activity that removes me from that and the daily academic grind is welcome
Do you play any other sports?
I played basketball and soccer in high school and I still play pickup basketball as well as intramural soccer and basketball when I can. Lacrosse will always be my favorite sport in my heart, but basketball and soccer are close seconds.
Mixing it up in high school helped me avoid getting burnt out on any one sport and the skills that I learned from soccer and basketball transitioned well onto the lacrosse field.
Favorite shoes in your collection?
I worked with Austin Lewis (who was already a Wolf of the MCLA) at Nike over the summer and my siblings picked me up from the store a pair of Nike “Beethoven” Kobe 9 Elites for my birthday.
I’ve always been a low top basketball shoe fan, so I was pretty stoked about these.
What’s your idea of a perfect meal?
Honestly, food is secondary to the company I’m sharing the meal with when I’m eating. My perfect meal would be with family and friends on the porch at my house during the summer.
If we’re talking about food, you can’t go wrong with barbecue chicken off the grill with watermelon and a nice Caesar salad as well.
What’s your main source of transportation?
I’ve been riding my bike around campus and around town a lot recently. It’s cheaper than keeping a car up in Spokane and downtown is only a mile or two away from campus so I can get most places I need to be in less than 15 minutes.
My friend and I biked out to Lake Coeur D’Alene in the fall, and we’re planning a bike trip up in Canada later this year.
What is your pre-game ritual (if any)?
I try to have a heaping plate of pasta and get 10 hours of sleep the night before the game. The morning of, I’ll hit the wall to warm up my stick skills so that I can spend my warmup getting my feet right and making sure that I’m seeing the ball.
I don’t listen to a lot of music before the game, but I like to joke around with my teammates to keep myself and the team loose.
What is one thing you wish the world would understand about lacrosse?
I think that there’s still a stigma that exists where outsiders imagine lacrosse players as these 5’9 prep school kids who have grown up with a stick in their hands. The sport has started to attract some of the best athletes in the country from a multitude of different backgrounds.
The diversity of the sport has raised the level of play at all levels and it’s exciting to watch as the sport grows and gains popularity.
Do you consider yourself a lone wolf, leader of the pack, or committed teammate?
As a freshman on the team last year, my primary goal was to fulfill my role as a committed teammate and learn from the upperclassmen. The position I play lends itself well towards building leaders, and that’s a role I embraced in high school, but I had to build a sense of trust with my teammates before I could really be a vocal leader of the pack. Now that I’ve established a rapport with the team, it’s a lot easier to lead the team on and off the field.
How many years have you been playing lacrosse and where did you find your start?
I started playing in sixth grade because most of my friends had already made the switch from baseball. The team needed a goalie for the first part of my first season so I got put in between the pipes for my first game ever.
I played off and on for the next two years, but I actually started taking it seriously at the end of eighth grade. A lot of credit has to be given to my first coaches, Jim Salmon and Nick Athanasakos, for sticking with me and helping me improve over those first few years.
What made you choose to go to play lacrosse at Gonzaga?
Choosing to play lacrosse at Gonzaga actually came secondary to the other opportunities that the school had to offer. I got into the Honors program here and the school had a great academic reputation, so the financial aid package really made the school a good for me. The fact that I’ve been able to play lacrosse here has been a bonus.
Can you tell us the story of how you scored your one goal?
I wish I had a good story to tell for this one, but the fact is that I’ve never scored a goal as a goalie. I did have an assist where I threw an outlet pass to a midfielder as he was streaking into the opposite box, but nothing more than that. I would assume that this can be chalked up to a typo on the MCLA website, but I honestly don’t know.
You received some pretty high honors after a breakout freshman season, what are the goals you’ve set for yourself and for your team in 2015?
The honors that I received last year were a pleasant surprise. My goals for myself always correspond to how I can best help my team, whether that be making big saves, throwing smart outlets, and setting up our defense so that we’re in a good position to make stops.
If I were to put numbers on it, I’m hoping to have a 60% save percentage, keep my goals allowed average to below 10, and stay out of the penalty box for the entire season.
After quickly becoming the backbone of the Zags defense, how do you plan to help lead the team in 2015?
My plans to lead the team start by setting a consistent standard for effort during practice. A lot of people think of club lacrosse as not being very serious, but that’s not the case for our team.
The effort and enthusiasm that our team brings to practices carries over to games and beyond. If I can help foster a culture predicated on effort for our team, the 2015 season will be a success.[mks_separator style=”solid” height=”4″]
Congratulations to Gaelen, and a special thanks to Coach Sullivan and the Gonzaga University Bulldogs for nominating him as our latest Wolf of the MCLA!