Dan Wigrizer has likely played his final collegiate game for Duke.
The senior goaltender—who led the Blue Devils to the program’s only national championship in 2010 as a freshman and subsequent championship weekends in 2011 and 2012—has battled injuries all season and has not suited up for Duke since a March 2 loss to Maryland. Although the injury had previously remained undisclosed, Wigrizer said he had received one concussion too many.
“I’ve had a long history with concussions and head injuries,” Wigrizer said. “I was in a situation where neurologists said that if I got another concussion, I shouldn’t be playing anymore. They told me before the season that if it happened again I shouldn’t be playing anymore. With all this news recently about concussions it’s a really tough situation as a player to say, ‘No, I don’t want to play.’ But finally the doctors came to me and said, ‘We need to figure this out. There are more important things in life than lacrosse.’”
The shot that effectively ended Wigrizer’s career came in the week before Duke’s 17-6 loss to Maryland five weeks ago. Wigrizer did not recover, allowing five goals on the first seven shots he faced and being pulled from the game just 43 seconds into the second quarter.
“I got hit before the Maryland game, and it cracked my helmet. That was the hardest I’ve ever been hit,” Wigrizer said. “After that game I wasn’t myself.”
Wigrizer now closes the book on an illustrious career in which he posted a 36-18 record. He finishes undefeated in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament and is just one of six netminders in NCAA history to win a national championship as a true freshman.
Even though his playing days are done, Wigrizer hopes to continue serving his team as it presses forward toward the postseason. Since his injury, Wigrizer’s primary role on the team has been to mentor his backup, sophomore Kyle Turri.
With Wigrizer injured and the team off to a 2-4 start, Turri took over between the pipes for the Blue Devils since Wigrizer’s injury and has led the team to seven consecutive victories. Duke had dropped out of the rankings, but is now tabbed No. 8 nationally.
“With Kyle playing well that really helps me out. I really think that at this point, my role is to help enhance these goalies. I’ve been in the position before, and I know exactly where they are going,” Wigrizer said. “Kyle is doing great. He is listening to his coaches and has taken this team on quite a run.”
By serving almost as another assistant coach on the sidelines, Wigrizer has not only found a way to help his team now that he can no longer play, but also a potential career path.
“Coaching goalies would be great,” Wigrizer said. “Just during these couple of weeks I’ve learned so much about coaching, and I think it’s awesome. I didn’t put thought to it beforehand but I can tell you after these last couple of weeks that it’s definitely in my mind.”
Despite a premature ending to his lacrosse career, Wigrizer said he looks back on his career with no regrets. His next mission is to help cement his legacy at Duke.
“It’s tragic to end the way that I’m ending. I knew eventually it was coming, but it was definitely something I had to take a couple of weeks to cope with,” Wigrizer said. “After doing that, I realized that I have the opportunity not only to make a difference this year, but in years to come by helping out Kyle. My legacy will hopefully last further than my playing career, and that’s pretty special.”