Sept. 17, 1999
The role of the team oddball is filled by many players. Relief pitchers, pole vaulters, coxswains, punters and kickers -- all notorious head cases in the world of athletics. But the spot at the top of that list is reserved for the most "out there" athletes outside of the X Games -- goalies.
Perhaps it's because they are the last line of defense. Perhaps it's the suspicion that they've suffered one too many dives into the post. Perhaps it's because they're very loud and their uniforms (and sometimes hair color) are often louder. Or perhaps it's that they can essentially lay to waste an onrushing opponent by any means within their power AND it's perfectly legal.
In this world of oddballs, WSU's Lindsey Jorgensen might be the strangest of the whole bunch. She's quiet and a bit shy. She's uncomfortable talking about herself. Jorgensen, you see, is down right normal. "I think the other players are crazy because they don't get to use their hands," she said. "I mean, who's smarter? Everyone else is out there running around dying for 90 minutes and I just have to stand in net."
That would pass for a joke from Jorgensen. The 5-11 blond-haired, blue-eyed "Mountain" (one of her nicknames) cuts an imposing figure in the net, but you'll never catch her cutting down her teammates. Though she's only a sophomore, that's one of the reasons she was named team captain, along with Beth Childs and Christina Pallan.
"I try to lead by example," Jorgensen said. "I'm vocal on the field, but I take a back seat when it comes to other stuff. Each captain has their different role."
The words "lead by example" epitomize Jorgensen. Last year following her 2-0 shutout of USC, Trojan coach Jim Millinder called her, "the best keeper we've faced in the Pac-10, hands down." If there is a knock on Jorgensen, it would be that she is too much about soccer.
"My life is pretty much all soccer, all the time," she said. "That's what I'm here for and I love what I'm doing."
If only every player had that problem.
"Lindsey is pretty much the most dedicated, committed person ever to the game of soccer," said teammate Beth Childs. "She would literally do anything she has to just to be able to play this game."
Few would be able to give a better assessment of Jorgensen than Childs. Childs, WSU's sweeper (the last defender in front of the keeper), and Jorgensen have played on the same team since the sixth grade and have forged a unique relationship.
Along with teammate Natalie Kehl, the two share an apartment in Pullman and their familiarity with each other is evident on the field.
"We work together really well on the field," Childs said. "When you play with somebody for as long as Lindsey and I have, you develop a special bond. I think we have a really good feel for what the other one is going to do.
"Having her right behind me gives me the confidence to make plays because I know she's going to make the save. But on the other hand, I want to make that extra effort to stop the ball so that Lindsey doesn't have to. As a sweeper, it's my responsibility to keep Lindsey from being caught in bad situations."
Ironically, Jorgensen and Childs didn't plan on attending WSU together. During their senior seasons at Mt. Si High, Jorgensen committed early to the Cougars, while Childs weighed a number of offers, figuring to go elsewhere. But in the spring, WSU came back with another offer, and Childs accepted. The gain for the Cougars has been immeasurable.
"It's a good situation," said WSU coach Dan Tobias. "They have such cohesiveness between the two of them that it spreads to the whole team."
Tobias said he has seen Jorgensen mature from her freshman season where she played a school-record 1,869 minutes in net with 120 saves -- three shy of another school record.
"She exudes such confidence," he said. "I think that goes with how she conducts herself as a high level student-athlete. She's a great student and a great player.
"She's very motivated to perform at a high level and determined to help this team be the best it can be by being the best keeper she can be."
Ironically, Jorgensen never set out to be a goalie. As an eight year-old stuck in the net, she hated the position.
"I really did," she said. "I absolutely hated it. The goalie never got to do anything and I wanted to go run around."
Soon enough, though, Jorgensen got hooked on the position.
"I love the pressure," she said. "There are times when I hate it, but that pressure gets your adrenaline pumping like no other.
"I hate it when I get scored on. I feel like I've let my teammates down. They've been running for 90 minutes and all I have to do is stand back there and stop the ball from going into the net."
Jorgensen admits that one of the hardest things for her to do is not take all the blame for losses. "Everyone blames losses on themselves," she said. "You have to put it behind you."
Jorgensen said she accomplishes that by concentrating on school, where's she's a straight-A student, and outdoor activities. Growing up in North Bend right in the shadows of the Cascades naturally turned Jorgensen into a mountain lover.
And as a rebuttal to her "all soccer, all the time" label, Jorgensen enjoys hiking and mountain biking during the off-season.
But you have to wonder, isn't there something just a bit too odd about Jorgensen's lack of oddity? Some secret unbeknownst to the general public?
"Well, me, Beth (Childs) and two friends won the intramural four-on-four football tournament last fall," Jorgensen admitted. "I don't think the coaches know about that."
They do now, Lindsey. Go on.
"It was a lot of fun, but I couldn't catch the ball. I guess that's pretty funny, a goalkeeper who can't catch a ball."
That, in itself, is just crazy enough to qualify Lindsey Jorgensen as a darn good keeper after all.