Orillia Royals catcher Lucas Mackey has signed a letter of intent to join the State University of New York, Jefferson Cannoneers, who play in Watertown, New York.
The 18-year-old Patrick Fogarty Secondary School student says the chance to play baseball in junior college is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“Whether it’s Division I or junior college, I know tons of other guys my age who would kill to be in my position right now. So, I’m going to really soak in this opportunity and take advantage of it,” Mackey said.
Mackey grew up playing in the Orillia Legion Minor Baseball house league system and only recently decided to take the game more seriously when he joined the U-18 rep team.
Mackey has also been training year-round with Orillia-based Chaser’s Baseball Development which is run by former competitive baseball player Chase Walach.
“Chase has helped me take my game and make it skyrocket over the past year-and-a-half. He’s a private coach who I’ve gotten close with over the years, so it’s been really easy to work with him; we have a really strong bond,” Mackey said.
“I’m able to joke around with him but we are on the same page in terms of knowing what my goal is, so we are able to keep it serious at the same time. He’s helped me get to where I am today," said Mackey.
While Mackey has put in a lot of work over the last couple of years, he's worried that the pandemic has been detrimental to his development.
“I’ve put in a ton of work off the field, but I don’t really know what works until I get to see it in-game. COVID has definitely put a damper on things that way,” he said.
The next big challenge for Mackey this fall will be balancing his baseball life with his school life.
“Nobody wants to talk about the school aspect of being a college athlete, but it’s important to me,” Mackey said.
“A lot of guys have to do schoolwork on the road while travelling to games (and) sometimes you miss class for games, training, practices, things like that," Mackey explained.
"I will do my best to make sure I’m giving my best effort in both school and on the baseball team.”
Mackey is hopeful his work ethic on and off the field will earn him a scholarship for his sophomore year.