Puyallup: Sports

Former Rogers High defenseman Jeremy Cornely prepares for next step at University of Montana

Rogers High School graduate Jeremy Cornely will play lacrosse for the University of Montana in the fall.
Rogers High School graduate Jeremy Cornely will play lacrosse for the University of Montana in the fall. jbessex@gateline.com

Rogers High graduate and former Rams lacrosse defender Jeremy Cornely is a man of little words.

He’s a man of action.

Perhaps it’s proper for a defenseman to speak so little; when in a fast-paced game, it’s important for these players to react and not think on the run as they shadow opposing attackers while providing support on offense. In this sense, Cornely is the perfect defenseman.

“It’s about the relationship you build with your defense and goalie that helps you,” Cornely said. “From day one, it’s about building that relationship to trust each other.”

After his performance with both Rogers High lacrosse and the Puyallup Panthers LC, Cornely signed his offer with the University of Montana lacrosse, joining his lifelong friend and Panthers LC teammate, Hassan Mackey, to play Division I lacrosse.

“It still doesn’t feel real. It’s kind of hard to explain,” Cornely said. “I can’t believe that (going to Montana is) happening.”

Perhaps it’s fitting for these two to be going into D-I lacrosse together next season, with Mackey heading to Eastern Pennsylvania University. It’s been their work together that has led to their accomplishments.

“We could always hold each other accountable,” Mackey said. “Whenever I needed someone to come out and shoot with, I could always call him and he would be out here. And he would always call me when he needed someone.”

It was a friendship built from years on the field together.

“It’s amazing that we both managed to do this and go to college,” Cornely said. “The conversations really started last year about us going to college. Once we both started getting calls, it became real for us.”

When Cornely first met Mackey, they were both rambunctious 5-year-olds, running around the field with excitement, energy and the typical normal clumsiness of a young player.

Even at that young age, Cornely was slightly bigger than the other kids, a little stronger, but his pure size and athleticism were only enough for so long. There needed to be more to this growing beast.

“When I first saw him, he couldn’t even hold his stick correctly (or even) shoot it overhand like you’re supposed to,” said Larry Mackey, who coached Cornely while he played for the Panthers.

There was an instant connection with the elder Mackey, as the coach’s words seemed to run deep within the young Cornely as he was discovering the game. The game was held above all else with the coach, a sentiment Cornely could not explain, but always felt since he was young. It was something he reflected on while out with Hassan on a recent afternoon.

“I can’t really put it into words (but), it meant a lot,” Cornely said. “He treated everyone fairly, and it made it easy to listen to (Larry) when he was telling you to keep your stick up. He had a great influence on me getting this chance to play in college.”

With that chance, Cornely now hopes to prove Montana right in selecting him as one of the program’s next rising defenders, adding grit to the back line while suffocating opponents in the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Lacrosse League.