How lacrosse changed one Syracuse University player's life

Hakeem Lecky

When Hakeem Lecky first arrived at Syracuse University, he went out to a practice field with some of his new lacrosse teammates. Most of them had been playing the game since they were 5 or 6-years-old. Attackman Derek Maltz said he knew Lecky had been an All American in high school, but Maltz and his teammates had no idea that Lecky had only been playing for four years.

"We're all shooting around talking - when did you start playing, where are you from, all of those basic questions. He said he had started as a freshman and I was blown away, because the way he shoots the ball and the way he plays on the field, you would just never guess," said Maltz.

Lecky had lived in Jamaica until he was 8-year-old and never even heard of lacrosse. He moved to Nantucket, off the coast of Massachusetts, when he was 8-year-old and stayed even after his mother moved off the island. Lecky had become a high school football star, but Nantucket's lacrosse coach thought the freshman could help his team. The coach gave him a stick, and after just a few practices, put Lecky into a junior varsity game. Lecky had multiple goals and assists in that game, even though he barely knew how to play.

"I wasn't really familiar with all the rules. I was called for offsides all the time, I was in the crease a bunch," said Lecky.

Soon Lecky was going to camps and all-star games with players who had been around the game since they could walk. He found that he could hold his own and Lecky transferred to traditional lacrosse powerhouse Duxbury High School south of Boston. Lecky was also starting to see where the opportunities the sport was bringing to him.

"Once I started getting these college letters, it started to hit me my junior, senior year, this could happen you know?"

When he started practicing at Syracuse University, Lecky's teammates quickly realized that the young midfielder made up for his lack of experience with his intense work ethic.

"He's been given a gift that not many people have. His athletic ability is just off the charts," said Maltz.

Just when it looked like nothing could hold him back, a wrist injury put him on the sidelines. Lecky had to sit out most of his freshman year and wait for his turn.

"It was just tough. It was kind of sad at the same time. But the one thing I could think about was getting back out there," said Lecky.

While he was injured, Lecky focused on his schoolwork. He had already proven himself on the field and he knew that his lacrosse scholarship was an incredible off field opportunity as well.

"My first econ class was the intro to economics class, and I liked it a lot. I did well in it and I liked my teacher. And kind of like lacrosse, I got hooked right away," said Lecky.

Lecky is now an economics major, healthy, and playing at the highest level. Even with his success, Lecky says he still has a long ways to go on what has already been an incredible journey.

"Just as in lacrosse I tell myself everyday, hard work pays off and I translate that to the books," said Lecky.