Accomplished athletes have experiences “off the field” that shape their futures as much as their performance statistics. This happened to Scholarship winner Malachi Bailey several times during his four years at Tuscarora. In his senior year Malachi was the Captain of BOTH the school’s Football and Basketball teams, but the road to that leadership was paved with obstacles to overcome first.
“Soccer was my ‘gateway’ sport along with flag football in elementary school. As a Freshman at Tuscarora, I knew may place in student sports was to work hard, prove myself and learn from others.” Basketball became his main pursuit in middle school, and in high school he transitioned from flag to tackle football. That spring, after months of performing, COVID ended team practices and competition. The shut down continued throughout his entire sophomore year.
But the coaches at Tuscarora did not stop engaging with their teams. “Every day we had a team call with our coach where we worked together on strategies for winning and staying in shape while we were in isolation. It built us as a team and formed us into a larger family.” Malachi credits this discipline as the “secret sauce” to the string of competitive accomplishments Tuscarora has experienced after the pandemic. “Our Basketball team was the first in Tuscarora history to go to the State finals. We lost but got farther than any Tuscarora team before us.”
Malachi’s world should have returned to a more normal cadence during his junior year, but that’s when his grandfather (who lived in Brooklyn, NY) became seriously ill. “I had to miss a lot because our family need to go back and forth many times to care for his needs. It was frustrating and hard to manage for all of us in my family.” His grandfather died, and Malachi was inspired to see the outpouring of response from his grandfather’s community. “He was a simple man, but it became clear that he was the ‘go-to guy’ in his community for anyone who needed help. He had been a leader in the Jamaican Army before he came to the United States, and his leadership skills showed in how he made a difference in his community.”
Before he could complete his college applications, Christopher Newport University came knocking at Malachi’s door. A good student in addition to being a good athlete, Malachi took advantage of the Dual Enrollment Program available to LCPS students and earned college credits in English, History and Government. Student life outside of sports involved DECA, leadership in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and leadership in the school’s PEER program. Through PEER was a Buddy to a student who was interested in videogames but struggled to be part of larger groups of students. “I offered to play games with her and ended up mastering a game called Madden that connects players from all over the world! And I became a competitor at this sport too!” The knock on the door from Christopher Newport will has him headed there in the fall to play football and study pre-law and business. “The recruitment process with Christopher Newport helped me understand that athletes have options, but really need help taking advantage of them. Helping athletes manage their careers really appeals to me.”
Memories of his grandfather’s legacy and the support of his parents looms large in Malachi’s future. “My goal is to create a team of athletes that leave a legacy of impact in this world beyond sports. Being able to make an impact makes life about something bigger than ourselves. It fulfills our essential human need to contribute.” Well said Malachi and well done! Congratulations on a bright future ahead!