Jessica Anderson intended to play softball at St. Michael’s College. It seemed the natural course after batting .408 for his senior year at Springfield High School. Ten of his 22 hits were of the extra base variety.
But SMC coach Carla Hesler needed a goaltender for the lacrosse team and Anderson had previously played in goal for Hesler’s Purple Knights on the field hockey field.
“I had planned to play softball at St. Michael’s, but she was in a tough spot,” said Anderson, now Jessica Dodge and living in Billerica, Massachusetts. “She needed a goalkeeper.
Anderson immersed herself in learning the position of a lacrosse goalie.
“I needed to learn the sport and I needed to be open-minded,” Dodge said.
“I immediately started training. Reed Watson had been a coach at Temple and was very good at coaching goalkeepers.
“He spent a week with me in Florida. He and his wife had both been coaches for a long time.
There was a lot to learn this week. There are similarities to the field hockey position, but there are also many differences.
Dodge did not consider the switch from softball to lacrosse difficult.
“I didn’t think it was a tough choice at the time,” Dodge said. “I saw it as an opportunity to play for a coach I liked.”
This attitude helped her make the transition to a new sport.
“I had to learn the angles and how to clear. I had to learn the rules of the game and how the game was played,” Dodge said.
It was field hockey, downhill skiing and softball for her while wearing the Springfield Cosmos green.
She was part of the Springfield field hockey team that won the Marble Valley league championship in 2000 and played for Vermont against New Hampshire in the Twin State Field Hockey Classic in 2001.
She was a United States Lacrosse All-American at SMC, and in 2005 was the United States goaltender for the United States Women’s Varsity Lacrosse Team that competed for the Melbourne Cup.
She has garnered many honors and the latest will be her induction into the Springfield High School Athletic Hall of Fame on March 5.
She married fellow Springfield High graduate, Ed Dodge, and their two sons, ages 7 and 11, play sports.
“When I was at Springfield I wanted to play soccer but they said it was only for boys. Now my boys are playing soccer and they have girls on their team. I think it’s great” , Dodge said.