For the Love of the Game
COLUMBIA- Lacrosse is a sport that combines football's physicality, a basketball type offense, and soccer finesse. Hickman's Andy Messenger can do it all and everyday he shows his team just how much he loves the game. Hickman started its lacrosse program in 1999, but chances are it's never seen a player like Andy Messenger.
"He was an incredible sophomore. In our very first game he ended up getting a couple of shifts and I realized he was one of the hardest working players on our team," said Hickman lacrosse coach Jamie Mullen.
But Messenger says he didn't catch on at first.
"Not at all. Not the slightest. Even after the first game. Just running around and not even knowing what was going on," recalled Hickman junior lacrosse player Andy Messenger.
Messenger only started playing lacrosse two years ago, but last summer his heart took a hit when his dad got a job that moved the family to Springfield.
"He was heartbroken and we knew he would be, but he also understood why we were doing it," said his father Tony Messenger.
"I was just heartbroken that I was going to have to leave all my friends and Hickman lacrosse," said Messenger.
"He called me. He left a message and I was heartbroken because he figured to be a major part of this team the next two years," said Mullen.
Coaches prepared and Hickman went on without Andy, but he wasn't done fighting for a return.
"I just wrote a letter to my parents telling them that I really wanted to move back and play for Hickman again," said Messenger.
"It was the kind of letter that on one hand you never want to see as a parent because it's your son saying that he's sad. That's he's not really happy, but on the other hand it made us proud because he showed so much of his heart," said Messenger's father.
"I didn't think his parents would really go for it, but he wasn't really liking Springfield and I didn't want to play against him. So I just called him up and asked if he wanted to live with me," said Andy's teammate A.J. Jayamanne.
The idea scored and Messenger made the move during holiday break. He Lived with his best friend and teammate A.J. Jayamanne.
So, we were all elated and I called my assistant coach right away and all I said was 'Mess was back'. And he said 'yes!'" said Mullen.
"I was fortunate enough to have a friend that would let me in. So I have a lot of people that are supporting me and it's been working out," said Messenger.
Messenger is the team's face-off man. And in the face of adversity he found a way to fix broken hearts.
"It takes a lot of guts. Most people would really try, but Andy had a lot of dedication in getting himself up here," said Jayamanne.
"Even though he is one of our best players, he works the hardest and he shows the younger guys that they really need to bring their best effort every time," said Mullen.
Effort and dedication. Andy admits he misses his little brother and sister, but plans on living in Columbia one more year and graduating from Hickman in 2008.
The Hickman lacrosse team is 10 and 4 on the season after a Sunday loss to Parkway West.