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Jesse King focused on team goals for Ohio State men’s lacrosse

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Senior midfielder Jesse King (19) prepares to take a shot during a game against Denver on March 14 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 13-11. Credit: Molly Tavoletti / Lantern reporter

Senior midfielder Jesse King (19) takes on a defender during a game against Denver on March 14 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 13-11.
Credit: Molly Tavoletti / Lantern reporter

Between his time with Ohio State and the Canadian National team, Jesse King has scored 107 goals.

The first three came on Feb. 9, 2012, in the now-senior midfielder’s first game for the Buckeyes, and the most recent five came last weekend in OSU’s inaugural Big Ten home victory over Johns Hopkins. In between, there was one on July 15, which King scored for the 2014 World Champion Canadian National Team.

Four seasons, 64 games split between OSU and the national team and 98 other goals have blurred by for the Buckeye captain, who said he intends to continue his already impressive lacrosse story as a professional. Though his time as a Buckeye is quickly drawing to a close, King said his work at OSU remains far from finished.

“We’ve accomplished a lot of things, but we haven’t accomplished our goal of winning a championship,” King said.

The midfielder focuses on games one at a time, and is currently working toward a Big Ten Championship run with the No. 11 Buckeyes, he said. The conference tournament is set to take place in College Park, Md., from April 30 to May 2, but the passion King intends to use to accomplish that goal originated 15 years ago and nearly 3,000 miles northwest of College Park, where he first picked up a lacrosse stick in Victoria, British Columbia.

“I started when I was 7 years old,” King said. “I played box lacrosse pretty much my whole life, along with hockey for basically 10 years. But as you get older, you want to focus more on just one sport, so I dropped hockey, made the commitment to go to a high school about 25 minutes away from my house so that I could be in the lacrosse program.”

From day one, King possessed an innate desire to win, he said. But when he realized lacrosse could be his gateway to an affordable education in the United States, his motivation to improve his game grew even stronger.

“I didn’t even know going to the States for school was a possibility until grade 11. At the time, not a lot of people in Canada were doing that,” King said. “But I learned if you’re really good, you could to get into a school down there and play lacrosse. If I hadn’t have gotten a good scholarship, I probably wouldn’t have gone to school at all because I couldn’t afford it.”

Through several recruiting camps the summer before his senior year, King first committed to play at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., but soon realized his desire and ability to dream bigger. He re-evaluated his decision, and after one invited visit to OSU, he committed to the Buckeyes.

“We knew what we were getting with Jesse coming in,” OSU coach Nick Myers said. “He’s been really hungry from the start to improve.”

As a freshman and sophomore, King’s individual success on the field blossomed, and as sets of senior leaders moved on from OSU, his role began to evolve.

“He understands it’s more than just scoring goals,” Myers said. “He has to lead in the right way and be a positive voice that the guys understand. And even now, he’s continued to grow in that way.”

King admitted he remains far from perfect, so in addition to daily three- to four-hour practices, he tries to commit a few extra days of lifting, shooting and stick work. He hopes not only to refine his craft, but also to set an example for his team.

“It’s his relentless effort,” junior midfielder Kacy Kapinos said. “He leads by action. He gets in there and takes every drill 100 percent, as hard as he can. And he has a big impact on the younger guys.”

That focused, “never settle” approach has paid off — King has last summer’s gold medal to prove it — but where does his perpetual motivation come from? How does the 22-year-old student-athlete manage success while maintaining balance?

“It’s really a lot of different things,” King said. “When you’re with a team every day for four years, there’s a brotherhood that’s created. You really wanna do things for each other on the field, and that drives me. It’s definitely hard being a student athlete, but I wouldn’t have changed it for a second.”

Regardless of this season’s outcome, King said he rests assured his time as a Buckeye was well spent, leading him to the next chapter of his life.

In January, King was selected in the first round of the 2015 Major League Lacrosse Collegiate Draft by the Rochester Rattlers, paving the way toward his professional career. But he said he still has options, and hopes to one day play for his home town Victoria Shamrocks in the Western Lacrosse Association.

“With professional lacrosse, there are a lot of different paths you could take, so getting to play and still have a career is going to be a lot of trying different things out, but I know I want lacrosse to be a part of my life,” King said. “Down the road, I’ve been looking into becoming a firefighter for the city of Victoria. I’d be able to help people in my hometown and keep playing lacrosse for my home team in the summers.”

To watch Lantern TV’s interview with Jesse King, watch the video below, and skip to 3:47.

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