lacrosse player injury

Two sequential hip surgeries usually spell retirement for an athlete’s career

The origins of his collegiate lacrosse career didn’t come on Penn’s campus, rather they came from Radnor High School, where he was a two-sport standout in football and lacrosse.

Over Thanksgiving break last fall, his school had an alumni lacrosse game where he played particularly well, especially considering that he had not played organized lacrosse since leading his team to the Pennsylvania state championship his senior year.

Penn men’s lacrosse junior goalie Alex Andersen is not your typical athlete. After injuries forced the premature end of one career, a new one began for him this spring.

“One of my buddies said, ‘man, you should totally come out of retirement and play at Penn,’” Andersen reflected. “I didn’t really think much of it.”

Andersen was particularly pushed by former teammates Tom Meyers and Jack Wilson, who play lacrosse at the University of Massachusetts and University of Maryland, respectively.

After coming to the realization that his football career had come to an end, the 6’1, 235-pound former offensive lineman decided to reach out to Penn State’s coach Mike Murphy.

As Andersen put it:

“The rest is history.” Currently, Andersen is behind starting junior goalie Reed Junkin and talented sophomore backup Alex DeMarco on the depth chart. Still, where he lands on the depth chart was not a factor in his decision to return to lacrosse.

“I wanted to be able to come in and push those guys to get better. It really doesn’t matter to me exactly where anything with the depth chart lies. That wasn’t my focus going in,” Andersen said. “My focus was that I wanted to come in and make Penn lacrosse better and have fun doing it.”

Even with two established goalies, Murphy was ecstatic when he heard Andersen wanted to return to lacrosse.

“I was really excited. He’s a great kid and a really good athlete, and we never turn one of those down.”

Despite not being able to suit up for Penn football again, Andersen found ways to stay involved.

After he told football coach Ray Priore that he could no longer play following the 2016 season, the two-time Ivy league champion coach told Andersen he wanted him to stick around as an offensive assistant. “He said, ‘we still want you here now’ and really let me be a part of the family even though I wasn’t playing,” Andersen said with a smile. “He’s just a great guy and I really wanted to thank him for the opportunity to be a part of something special with Penn football.”

Andersen could have sulked about how injuries robbed him of the back half his football career or how he is not receiving a lot of playing time this season.

That is not how he is wired.

“I try to bring the juice as much as I can, bring energy to practice every day, and get better every single day.”

“He’s given us [looks] in practice if we need a bigger goalie or a right-handed goalie based on the scout,” Murphy said. “He steps up and does a great job.”

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