At the age of 7, Megan Huether played her first game as a goalie in the Towsontowne lacrosse program. Her coach asked the team if anyone wanted to play the position, and none of her teammates raised their hands. She agreed to play it for a half.
"I started making saves, and people were cheering," she said. "Coach was ready to replace me, and I said, ‘It's OK. I'll stay in the goal.'"
Huether really wanted to score as well, so she played other positions until the seventh grade, when she made the decision to stay in net full time. She went on to star at Maryvale Prep and Duke University, where she helped the Blue Devils win their first ACC women's lacrosse championship in 2005.
"That was a great moment for me," she said. "To win an ACC title at Ravens Stadium and be a part of something that has never been done. I wish we had won more."
Huther, now 31, was named the 2005 Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association National Goalie of the Year and a first-team All-American that same year. She also went on to win two Federation of International Lacrosse World Cup gold medals playing for the United States in 2009 and 2013.
Now, she dedicates her time to teaching girls how to play goalie.
"Field skills and stick skills are important," said Huether, who is the owner and director of Gold Medal Lacrosse and Goalkeeping and a co-director of the camps offered by Between the Pipes. "It's also important to play other sports. I played baseball and learned to keep the ball in front of me. I want my kids to play multiple sports."
Her students range from second- and third-graders to Division I college goalies.
"Being a goalie coach is about the whole journey for me," she said. "When I start working with a timid and shy freshman in high school and she becomes a really confident athlete, I feel proud of her accomplishments."
Huether is referring to the time she spent working with Maddy Fisher, Georgetown's goalie. She also works with Johns Hopkins goalie Caroline Federico, Notre Dame's Jenn Blum and Bucknell's Elizabeth Duswalt, among others.
She tailors her instruction to fit the needs of each goalie. She teaches self-awareness, visualization, how to recognize and appreciate a good play made by an opponent, breathing techniques and developing a vision of the field.
"You're going to mess up, and your mistakes will end up on the scoreboard," she said. "How do you stay present in the moment? Composure is something you learn over time. It's about much more than throwing balls at them."
Huether teaches her favorite things to do in a game, like "sparking a fast break" from a save. She runs summer camps and asks her campers what they like most about playing lacrosse.
"They tell me things like, ‘I love getting bruises,' and ‘I like feeling like a warrior,'" she said. "There's too much pressure on these kids. It's becoming a job at a much younger age. I want them to play because it's fun."
Huether believes there is no cookie-cutter method for becoming a goalie.
"Too many [college] goalies are drilled too much in technique, and they never develop the instinct to stop the ball however they can," she said. "Every save does not need to look perfect. Our goal is to keep the ball out of the goal, and sometimes that might mean kicking your foot out at the last second for a kick save."
With goalies being asked to do more to help their team, she encourages her students to play multiple sports, because athleticism is a key attribute for success.