Players wanting to score a goal against the BYU lacrosse team have to try and slide one by a “cool, East Coast cat” who knows about overcoming odds and smashing down opposition.
At 28, Rob Ostler, from Manorville, N.Y., returned for his senior year at BYU determined to lead the Cougars in their national championship aspirations and to wrap up some unfinished business.
“I want to be all-American,” Ostler said. “At the end of last year I received honorable mention. Each year you get better, so I wanted to be where I ended up last year towards the beginning or middle of the season this year. I want to be a team leader. I want to lead with shutouts. I want to be an all-American. I want to lead the team to a national championship.”
Ostler led BYU onto the field this past week as the elected flag-bearer — an honor that is bestowed upon players that exemplify commitment, hard work and excellence. BYU has improved to 5-1 on the season, with Ostler anchoring the defense from his goal.
“He has taken it upon himself to become the go-to guy; someone who really steps up big whenever we need him to,” said fellow captain Nick Stevens.
The New Yorker traveled a long, sometimes difficult path to arrive in Provo.
“When I was young, anything my brother and I weren’t supposed to do, we tried to do,” Ostler said with a chuckle. “When I heard Thomas Monson talk about lighting a hillside on fire, it reminded me of my brother and I lighting a pile of leaves on fire at the end of the block that almost burned down an old wooden fence.”
The Ostlers spent their free time at the beach. They would surf, bodyboard, skim-board, boat and fish.
“Anything you can do in the water, we would do it,” Ostler said. “That is where I fell in love with sailing.”
In 2008, Rob returned home from his mission in Portugal to find his family had lost its carpentry business because of the economic collapse. He decided to move to Utah and pursue his passion to play lacrosse. Soon he said he found himself basically living out of his grandfather’s Cadillac, unsure of how he would pay for tuition and living expenses.
Unexpectedly, Ostler received financial help from a friend that allowed him to pursue his dreams of playing lacrosse.
“My biggest achievement in life is being the first one in my family to graduate from a university,” Ostler said. “I am the trend-setter. I’m proud that I finished school and now I expect my children to do the same and accomplish even more.”
Overcoming broken thumbs, a torn ligament in his ankle and ever-present financial stress, Ostler is resolved to lead the Cougars to success.
“Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good that we oft might win, by fearing to attempt,” Ostler said as he quoted Shakespeare.
“He is a cool, East Coast cat, that through lots of hard work and genuine concern for others, has become a leader and a mentor for his teammates,” said head coach Matt Scheck.
Apart from his goals on the field, Ostler jokingly admitted he returned to BYU to find someone he can start a life with.
“I visited New York for the holiday, and I realized that I was in the land of desolation,” Ostler said. Then as a veteran athlete would, he went to practice on his skills: “Hi, I’m Rob Ostler, and I’m single.”
With a degree in recreational management, Ostler hopes to pursue his love for sailing. After finishing an internship at Provo Canyon School, where he taught 12 kids to sail and signed them up as members of the local yacht club, he is determined to have his own yacht club on the East Coast one day.
Ostler is a fearless competitor and leader on the field while being a fun, sincere friend to his teammates when they aren’t suited up to play.
“He maintains a necessary intensity when playing, but off of the field he is just a really friendly guy who loves to sail and rep that raunchy mustache,” Stevens said.