By John Philip Wyllie
It takes a special person to be a lacrosse goalie. You have to be utterly fearless, immune to pain and have the reflexes of a cat. Bonita Vista High senior Ulises Contreras is one such person.
“Ulises is one of our captains and a three-year starter,” said Baron coach, Ed Jeziorski. “You have to be a little crazy to jump in front of 100 mph (hard rubber) lacrosse balls, but he rises to the occasion when the game is on the line. He remains at ease, takes the stress out of the game and keeps his defensemen focused and in check. He is really a motivator and a leader.”
The Barons got off to a promising 3-0 Mesa League start before a loss to nemesis Eastlake foiled their plans for an undefeated league season. They are hoping to even the score on May 10 in the second game of that series and improve upon last year’s 7-3 league record. To do so, they will need to rely upon Contreras and his defense. The Baron goal keeper sharpens his skills in an unorthodox way.
“I play a lot of video games,” Contreras said. “The combat games have (projectiles) coming at you from all different angles. You have to turn and move quickly, so I think playing video games has helped me a lot. I also have 20-15 vision, so that helps too.”
In addition to capturing a Mesa League title, Contreras would like to be selected as the First Team Mesa League goaltender in this his final year. Over the years he has traded that honor back and forth with Eastlake’s fine goal keeper, David Johnson. Contreras believes that to have any chance at that honor the Barons will have to defeat the Titans in their May 10 rematch.
Contreras didn’t start out wanting to be a goal tender. His older brother was field player and a captain for the Barons a few years back and he wanted to follow in his footsteps.
“I wanted to be an attack man at first, but our first coach noticed that I saved a lot of balls even though I was using a small stick. He gave me a big stick, put some pads on me and put me in the goal. I began to love it, so now I just play there.”
Contreras proudly displayed his latest bruises and nonchalantly told me about a shoulder separation that he suffered earlier in the season.
“About three weeks ago my shoulder popped out when one of my defenders pushed an attack man into the goal. He hit me in the back and dislocated my shoulder. I just went to the doctor and got it taken care of,” Contreras explained. “If you feel like taking (and giving) hits and you really like to (mix it up) then lacrosse is the sport for you.”
His mother and father and hail from Culiacan and Mexico City respectively, so they are much more familiar with soccer than they are with lacrosse, but that hasn’t stopped them from supporting their son.
“They have really supported me in this. They allowed me to play in club leagues (in the off-season) that cost about $500 a piece and they try to come to all of my games. My brother though is really my hero. He has taught me so much about this game and about life. He has been a really big influence.”