UST’s sports communication pro donned his athletic gear and went for it!
UST-Houston’s ever-upbeat sports communication professional took a few weeks off in June and July to indulge his inner athlete in a major opportunity. UST Athletics Assistant Director of Media Relations Sean Sheikh, 22, was eligible to play attack and midfield for Team Philippines in the Adrenaline World Lacrosse Festival in San Diego, California. This tournament was the “big time.” The globally sanctioned event only happens every four years in conjunction with the World Lacrosse Championships, and Sheikh could not have been more excited.
“Representing the Philippines in lacrosse was a dream of mine,” Sheikh said. “I’m thankful to Coach Simon for this amazing opportunity. Our team of Filipino players like me from all over the world had the possibility of getting into the championship playoffs.”
A Love for Lacrosse
Sheikh, the son of a woman who immigrated from the Philippines and a father who arrived from Pakistan, was in middle school in Houston when he fell in love with lacrosse.
“I went to one practice, and I was sold. But throughout the years, I struggled to stay on the field with six injuries and four surgeries.”
Still, the intrepid young athlete never gave up. He played lacrosse through high school and for a year in college at the University of Houston, where he was team captain and made the Lone Star Alliance All-Conference Team.
Spiritual Meaning in a Sport
A lifelong Catholic, Sheikh is deep into the game’s history and finds spiritual meaning in it.
He explained, “Lacrosse is one of the oldest team sports in North America. It was started by Native Americans who sometimes played to settle tribal disputes, and sometimes played for religious reasons to collectively please the Creator.”
A Jesuit missionary in the 1600s is credited with naming the game lacrosse for the sticks (crosses) players used to carry, catch and pass the ball.
Getting in Shape for the Big Championship Tournament
Back to the present day, Sheikh took his knowledge and stick skills and trained daily leading up to the championship tournament in June. He did resistance training at UST and attended practices with his alma mater team at UH.
“I have stick skills from playing a lot of wall-ball, but I had to take my game to the next level,” Sheikh said. “So, I had a personal trainer, former teammates, family and friends who helped me push my athletic ability each day.”
Oops, What Happened?
But, as fate would have it, things didn’t go our hero’s way. United Airlines was late and lost Sheikh’s bags on the way to San Diego, so he had to rush to unfamiliar sports equipment stores and purchase all new game gear only one hour before the first game against Ireland. Then, after all that, Team Philippines did not get the results they wanted. (Team San Diego Lacrosse Club, the favorite, won the festival bracket championship)
“Despite our team not winning the tournament title, we gave it our all and represented the Philippines well at an event that marked the most transformative experience of my life,” the good-natured Sheikh reported.
Sheikh Will Always be a Hero at UST
While he didn’t wind up with a lacrosse major league contract, UST Athletics is thrilled to have Sheikh’s fantastic communications talent back on campus supporting all 19 Celt teams from soccer to softball to basketball and more. Nobody has more enthusiasm for selling the teams and raising awareness of what St. Thomas is doing in athletics.
Sheikh affirmed, “Sports communications at UST is the next best thing to actually playing! It keeps me always in the game and in the presence of coaches and athletes who inspire me.”
But don’t think for one second that his passion for lacrosse, which is not a Celt sport, has dimmed.
“’Maybe someday’ is always in my head,” Sheikh grinned. “It’s a blessing to have a dream.”