The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Lafayette’s local athletes give new meaning to ‘home games’

Lehigh Valley athletes often choose Lafayette for its proximity to home and its top-tier competition. (Photos courtesy of GoLeopards and James Macchia)

For athletes from the Lehigh Valley, Lafayette represents not only the conveniences of staying close to home but also the desire to represent and inspire their community while still living in it.

“From a sports aspect, growing up seeing Saquon Barkley, Jahan Dotson, Kevin White, Shane Simpson [and] a bunch of notable names playing in Lehigh Valley and making names for themselves pretty much was the motivation,” said junior Nahjee Adams, a running back for the football team and an Easton native.

Perhaps more important to Adams was his desire to be a role model for his community — an opportunity that he said has given him his identity.

“Being a role model for the younger generation … I might be able to be a voice for maybe one out of the 100 kids that I come in contact with or have an interaction with, and that’s pretty much just enough,” Adams said. “As long as I can help change the viewpoint or change the life of a young boy or young girl, I’m fine with that.”

Senior Louis Baloh, a lacrosse midfielder from Allentown, noted the benefits of staying close to family, particularly his mother, as something that drew him to Lafayette. Baloh’s ultimate decision, however, came down to the opportunity to walk on to the lacrosse team.

“I lost my senior year due to COVID and that didn’t really sit right with me, just having my last game be a game I didn’t realize was going to be my last game,” Baloh said. “I knew I could work hard to get on the team, so I decided to risk it and try to walk on and it worked out.”

Baloh also referenced the opportunity to get in contact with the lacrosse coaching staff as influencing his college decision.

“My [high school] coach quickly got me in contact with Coach Meyers and I had a couple of calls with him,” Baloh said.

Junior James Macchia, a goalkeeper on the men’s soccer team from Easton, had a similar experience, as the Lafayette coaching staff was able to scout him during high school due to his proximity to Lafayette.

“For soccer, I was able to be seen at a few of my high school games by Coach Bohn,” Macchia wrote in an email. “We got into communication and he helped to influence me in choosing Lafayette for both school and sport.”

Macchia also cited his connection to his family as a benefit of staying close to home.

“Being close to home is convenient for my parents to come to every home game and others, as we do not usually travel too far,” Macchia wrote.

Junior cross country and track distance runner Harvest Gil also benefits from familial proximity, with family living on College Hill enabling a superstition of hers to return home before certain meets. Beyond that, Gil enjoys getting to include her teammates in experiencing her childhood community.

“I’m able to bring people who I know on my team into my life from Easton,” Gil said. “A lot of the time we go and we have dinner at my house, and my parents make dinner for us and I help cook, and it’s super fun because I’m introducing them to where I grew up.”

Gil explained how in practicing with the track team, she runs around her childhood neighborhood all the time.

“It’s like a different perspective from being in seventh grade and going on runs and now I’m a Division 1 athlete,” Gil said.

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Benjamin White, Staff Sports Writer

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