Athlete of the Week: Nate Malo ’03

In the spring of 2002, the Boys’ Varsity Lacrosse team faced a difficult challenge. The squad entered the season without a single goalie in the program. The previous goalkeeper had graduated with the Class of 2001, and the JV goalie decided he had no interest in playing. In a fix, someone had to step up and take the pivotal position. Nate Malo ’03 decided he would be that someone. Coach John Dugan, in his first season as the Blue’s Head Coach last year, started Malo’s training as soon as he could. Dugan remembered, “I started taking shots on Nate last winter in the cage. We worked on some fundamentals about goalie play and had the opportunity to begin to learn some about the position as I tried to teach; at the same time, though, I knew that there were things about that position that I could not teach him. He would simply have to learn by doing.” Malo’s remarkable adaptation to the position, in addition to his strong play this past week, is what sets him apart as Athlete of the Week. Over the last two years, Malo has grown into a high caliber goalie. Captain Jesse Bardo ’03 said of Malo, “I can safely say that he is among the top five goalies in New England.” Malo’s drive to the top has been fueled by total commitment to the sport. Coach Dugan pointed out that, “Nate learned a lot last season and was probably too hard on himself when he didn’t make the saves. He has an earnest personality and does not like things sugar coated – he approached me several times last season, reassuring me that it would be all right with him if I put in the back-up goalie if I thought it would be best for the team. Nate is unselfish and hard on himself, often to a fault.” This season Malo has taken control of the defensive end, leading the group and working with them to correct any problems during games. Dugan said of him, “This year, after spending a portion of his summer at goalie camp, Nate entered the season with newfound confidence. Nate was very brave throughout the Maryland trip – he saw dozens of shots in each quarter of our play down there. We were facing better and more practiced teams, but Nate never got down and never blamed his defense, a defense that was still learning to play as a unit. Back in Andover, Coach [Leon] Modeste and I often marveled at how Nate was simply becoming a goalie before our very eyes, with each passing day of practice. He has helped Neville Williams, his back-up, as he himself is developing into a very strong goalie. He leads the defense, which is now committed to huddling up after each goal given up – a lesson learned down in Maryland. While as coaches we never hear what is said out there in those brief huddles before the next face off, I am sure that Nate takes more than his fair share of the blame for the goals.” Malo’s work ethic has been noted by all members of the team, and many are wowed at the progress he has made in his short goalie tenure. Tom Barron ’04 remarked that “[Malo] has a tremendous work ethic which has become very evident in his recent play. The fact that he only started playing goalie last year is a testament to that as well.” Malo thrives in close games, and delivered a glimmering performance against Holderness. With several outstanding saves he kept the boys in the running, and was a key part of their win. Malo plans to continue playing at the University of New Hampshire next year, and if his current learning curve continues he will undoubtedly become their most valuable player. With three games left in regular season play, the team does well in trusting the play of Malo to lead them to victory. His perseverance and general competitive nature. Coach Dugan especially values Malo’s work, as he recognizes the position of goalie in lacrosse as one of the most difficult in all sports. Dugan said, “Goalies are the leaders of the defense in lacrosse – they are the quarterbacks out there, so to speak, who help direct the defense in both settled and unsettled play. They are essential in the clearing game. There is much more to being a sound goalie in lacrosse than simply being able to stop a ball flung very hard at you from every conceivable angle. People say that the hardest thing to do in sports is to hit a round ball with a round bat, and that might be true, but I would put being a lacrosse right up there too – especially when the game is being played at a high level.” Malo has all of the necessary qualities and has served the Boys in Blue soundly for the last two seasons.