THE NEXT LEVEL: In an ongoing summer series, we’re catching up  with recent graduates as they prepare for their collegiate athletic careers

  • Lauren Mackey, a 2013 ConVal graduate, led the state champion Cougars with 19 runs scored and five home runs this spring.
  • The ConVal softball team defeated Goffstown 6-0 in the home opener on Monday, April 15, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • Recent ConVal graduate Lauren Mackey helped the Cougars win the first state softball championship in school history this spring and in the fall, Mackey will attend Clark University to play both field hockey and softball.
  • The ConVal softball team defeated Hollis/Brookline 6-5 in the Division II semifinals on Tuesday, June 4, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • ConVal field hockey vs. Hanover
  • Lauren Mackey was a Division II first-team all-state selection last fall as she helped ConVal qualify for the D-II tournament for the third straight season.
  • ConVal field hockey vs. Hanover

For the last four years, Lauren Mackey has proudly been a Cougar.

Wearing uniforms bearing the ConVal mascots name is something that will always hold a special place for Mackey.

But the recent ConVal graduate won’t have to get used the sight of a new nickname when she arrives at Clark University in the fall. Her new home for the next four years are also the Cougars — the only thing that will change are the colors of her jerseys.

While most high school athletes who are talented enough to make it to the next level decide to focus on one sport in college, Mackey is not one of them.

The three-sport ConVal athlete will continue her athletic career in both field hockey in the fall and softball next spring for the NCAA Division III Cougars.

Softball was always part of her college plans. It is a sport she grew up playing and had no intentions of giving up. But she didn’t always feel the same way about field hockey.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to pursue field hockey in college, but by my senior year I knew I wanted to keep playing,” said Mackey.

Lucky for her, Clark presented the opportunity to pursue both. Clark softball coach Linda Wage first saw Mackey when she played for the New England Diamond Gems showcase team last summer when she was there to scout a few of Mackey’s teammates.

Wage liked what she saw not only on the field, but off it as well. Mackey immediately became one of her top targets for the class of 2017 recruits. And not just in softball, as Wage is also Clark’s field hockey coach.

“She is a terrific character person,” said Wage. “And character and integrity are important to me.”

Mackey had been looking at schools since the summer prior to her junior year. She came up with a short list that centered around academics and ones that also might allow her to continue her athletic career.

In the end it came down to just two — Clark and Keene State College — and Mackey just felt Clark was the best place for her.

“I wanted to try going away from home and see what it was like,” said the Dublin native. “I’m lucky I found a school that I like and a coach that I can’t wait to play for.”

And Wage could not have been any happier to land an athlete she coveted.

“She’s definitely going to be an impact player,” said Wage. “Someone who I had at the top of my list.”

Over her four years at ConVal, Mackey proved she was an exceptional athlete. She played both midfield and defense for the field hockey team, helping the Cougars make the playoff in each of her last three years.

As the starting shortstop for ConVal since day one of her freshman season, she anchored the middle of the infield and always hit in a crucial spot in the lineup.

“Anytime you can attract a middle infielder you’re getting a great athlete,” said Wage.

And to cap off her high school career, Mackey had three hits and drove in three runs in the Division II championship game while playing on a severely sprained ankle, to help ConVal win the first state softball title in program history.

“She’s someone whose proven to be a clutch player,” said Wage. “She drives herself to be the best. She’s the kind of kid who steps on the field and wants to be the best.”

Wage has only seen Mackey play softball, but got a lot of information on her field hockey abilities and was confident that her athletic abilities would translate to the collegiate field hockey field.

In her 29 years at Clark, Wage has coached her fare share of two-sport athletes. In recent years, there have been quite a few, but this year Mackey will be the only one. And Wage has no questions of whether or not Mackey can handle the situation.

“I think Lauren is a special kid,” said Wage. “She’s going to add so much to our programs.”

While it will be an adjustment, Mackey is ready for the challenge. Having played three sports at ConVal, as well as juggled school work and a part-time job she is used to managing her time.

“I’m anxious to see what it’s like,” said Mackey. “Freshman year will be a good way to see if I really want to continue both, but I feel like I’m ready for it.”

In terms of what Mackey expects on the field, she is just hoping to earn her time through hard work.

Wage, on the other hand, fully anticipates Mackey to make an immediate impact on both teams.

“She’s an amazing athlete. I feel very blessed to have her coming,” said Wage. “I do consider her to be one of those elite athletes.”

Since Mackey, a first team all-state selection in field hockey and second team honoree in softball, has shown her versatility, she is ready to help in any way possible.

“I like to think I’m a utility type player who can go anywhere I’m needed,” said Mackey.

This is something Mackey has been thinking about for some time now and she is excited for the opportunity.

“Ever since I was little I wanted to play in college,” said Mackey.

And now that long time dream will soon be a reality as Mackey embarks on the next phase of her athletic career.

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