Sumner High senior lacrosse player Quinalt Mackey knows what it’s like to be alone.
Half his sports life, he felt separated from his peers as his life outside school never matched the one he lived during the day. He was alone.
“The biggest part for me was when I was growing up, (is that) no one played,” said Mackey, an attacker for Sumner’s lacrosse program. “No one in my middle school played (lacrosse).”
Playing club lacrosse was one thing, but Mackey desired something much more than an afterschool activity. He wanted to represent something more than himself when he played.
“As a kid, you look up to the people, like for football you have (Sumner running back) Connor Wedington,” said Mackey while talking about the responsibilities of being a role model. “As a fourth-grader, you’re saying you want to be like Connor Wedington.”
“Now it’s me carrying that burden on,” he added. “It sets an example and says this is what you can do with lacrosse.”
After joining and finding his connection with Sumner’s lacrosse program, Mackey has become the first Spartan lacrosse player to sign with a Division I school — and a Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association program — after signing Nov. 9 with the University of Utah.
“I’m little nervous,” Mackey said. “I’ve been waiting for this a long time — a long time. It’s kind of a emotional catharsis almost.”
He’s no longer alone.
In a sport that is only in its infancy at the high school level and in Washington as well as the West Coast, it says something about Mackey joining others from the area who have signed on with a future D-I programs.
Years ago, Mackey only wanted be a part of group that stood together throughout the day, wearing a badge of honor that displayed his devotion to a brotherhood greater than himself. He’s achieved that and more with Sumner.
“Now we have our own high school team, and it’s crazy to see the growth of the sport,” he said of the Spartans’ program, which is in its inaugural season. “To me being able to go to Utah kind of promotes that as it moves more towards the west.”
Mackey will graduate knowing he is the first lacrosse player to come out of Sumner, but the future has in store many most first-time experiences.
Utah coach Brian Holman has aggressively recruited top talent around the nation — including Mackey for attacker —with the intent that the new talent influx will help the Utes take the next step as a program. Holman intends to announce the program’s Division-I status this coming spring.
“At first, I thought, ‘Utah?’ But then I thought I could be a part of something new. I can’t wait,” Mackey said.
Holman hopes to have Utah a D-I lacrosse program by the 2019 season with Mackey’s recruiting class of 2017 — along with 2018 — will help launch the Utes into competitive play right away.
Ever since he was in middle school, all Mackey wanted was to have that connection that so many others in sports experience.
Mackey has found his brotherhood, first at Sumner High and soon to be at Utah.
“Right now I just want to have the best senior year possible,” Mackey said.