Tanner Pace was born and raised in Missoula, Montana, and is currently a freshman at The University of Montana. He has been playing lacrosse since 8th grade and will be suiting up for the Grizzlies this spring during his first year in the MCLA. Tanner traveled to tournaments and camps in California, Ohio, Illinois, Washington, Wisconsin, and Oregon during his high school career and he is a graduate of Big Sky High School.
How did you first get involved with lacrosse?
It must have been in 8th grade… I saw a lacrosse game on ESPN, some college game, and my dad mentioned that there was a camp at the YMCA for beginner lacrosse players. So we signed up for that and I pretty much have not stopped playing since. That was the beginning of it.
Remember when you got hit with that lacrosse ball on our trip to Chicago? How did that day change your life?
Well, it was interesting, and a little confusing. I found out that I had ITP (Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura) and that it was going to be difficult for me to play lacrosse, because I had trouble clotting and I would bruise. It was dangerous for me to get hit on the head or anything like that, so it definitely changed me. I wasn’t able to play for most of the next year, but it kinda just made me happier to be able to play lacrosse after, and be able to go out and do stuff I enjoy.
How did you decide on The University of Montana and what made you want to play for their lacrosse team?
Well, growing up in Missoula and having my dad both go to school and work at the University, I was always a big fan of all of the Griz programs. I mean it had a lot to do with the school as well, I like the academics as well as knowing the coaches and knowing some of the people that were going to be on the lacrosse team. That sort of familiarity was a nice choice for me, and obviously being able to be a part of a program that was a Griz program was important to me.
Describe your experiences this fall – how was the competition and how do you think you played?
Well, the competition was definitely a long ways ahead. It’s different to move from being a Missoula high school player, where I was in the top tier of good players and there weren’t many teams that I couldn’t score against or play very well against, to move to somewhere where I was someone who my offensive skills couldn’t really effect a game much. This fall I ended up playing a lot more assigned defensive midfielder type stuff, where I wasn’t looking to score a whole lot. It was very different in that I wasn’t a focal point of the team. I think I played fairly well, definitely defense I did well. I played a few runs of offense that went fairly well, I didn’t score, but I wasn’t really expecting to as a freshman and so I was pretty happy with my fall performance.
What are you studying now in school? Do you think you’re prepared to balance your school work and lacrosse schedule this spring?
Right now I’m undeclared. I haven’t picked a major and so I’m taking Gen Eds and trying to figure out what my major might be. Part of the reason I took a winter session class was so I could take a lighter load in the spring and really be able to commit a lot of time to both work, so I can keep earning money to pay for lacrosse, and also to have extra time to practice.
Do you have any advice for young players trying to play lacrosse out on the Frontier?
I think the biggest thing is, especially for the really young players, is to work on stick skills – cradling and shooting – because that’s the stuff that I found we were lacking when we’d go to tournaments and play against really good teams. You could be as well conditioned as possible, but stick skills will hold you back. And I guess knowledge of the game would be another big contributor to being a competitor out of state.
What are the goals for Griz Lacrosse this spring? What are your personal goals?
Obviously I think the Griz want to make up for last year, where we had a bunch of close losses and really try to finish games and win a few more. We want to make an impact in this league. My personal goals, I want to start getting some better playing time. I want to try and work my way up to maybe a second string. I’m realistic in that I know I won’t be a starter, but I’d like to be a contributing factor in, hopefully, some of those wins.
Thanks Tanner and good luck this spring! We hope to hear more from your explorations on the Frontier and be sure to follow Griz Lacrosse on www.grizlax.com, Facebook, Twitter, and on the Lacrosse Frontier.