HPU Lacrosse Team Manager Teaches Life Lessons

HIGH POINT, NC -- You expect athletes to learn from their coaches. They even learn teamwork from each other. But a team manager, a freshman at High Point University, is teaching fellow athletes something you just can't learn on the field.

When Connor McKemey was in middle school, he was a three sport athlete.

But in 8th grade, Connor was in a terrible accident. He was trying to light a fire, in a fire pit in his backyard. Some sparks got caught in a nearby space heater and triggered an explosion.

Connor was burned on 90 percent of his body.

"I was in a medically induced coma for about two months," said Connor.

Connor's chances were slim.

"Originally, I was only given a 1 percent chance of survival. They were really just trying to keep me alive long enough for my dad to come home, because he was in Iraq actually at the time," he said.

When he finally woke up, one of the first things Connor touched was a lacrosse stick.

"All the doctors, all they told me was I was never going to play sports again," he said. "It was so devastating."

Connor had a long road to recovery -- with skin graphs and months of rehabilitation.

"Deep down, I knew that there had to be a way that I could go out and play on that field," he said.

And Connor did. Nine months after the accident, Connor was playing his first lacrosse game. It was something that nobody thought was going to happen.

Connor worked so hard.

And when Jon Torpey, the men's lacrosse coach at High Point University, heard his story he asked Connor to be their team manager.

"He's just so vibrant. He's got such a positive attitude," said Torpey.

Connor's attitude has helped him and his teammates realize there's more to life than lacrosse.

"Every single day, I wake up and I'm like, 'OK, I get to play again today.' Because you don't know if you'll ever get to play again," said Reece Callies, Connor's teammate.

"You look at a guy like that, who has such a positive outlook on everything, that's been through more than any of us have, and when you see that… it's easy to take everything in stride," said Torpey.

Connor said, after he graduates from college, he hopes to become a lacrosse coach one day.

"Originally, I thought it was a burden. And now, I think it's such a blessing," Connor said. "I am part of a team."


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