Updated: Nov 5, 2019
By Owen Sienko
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- After Syracuse Men’s Club Hockey finished their 2018-2019 season, 17 players rode off into the sunset hoisting the ESCHL Championship trophy above their heads. But the remaining players on the team have something else hanging over them: the heavy burden to repeat that success. Without key contributors like Connor McNamara, Stephen Bressi, Mike Cuozzo, and many more, every player on the team, veterans and newcomers alike, have no choice but to take the next step and fill those shoes.
Junior forward Lucas Prestamo was up for the challenge. Over the summer, he spent his free time on the ice, practicing his game with Noah Williams, an old friend and Gunnery School teammate.
“Just keeping things simple has been important for me. I think in the past, I’ve tried to do too much, and this summer I’ve just really tried to simplify my game,” Prestamo said.
This “less is more” approach has certainly proved effective.
With five points through six games, Prestamo has already equaled his total of four goals from last season, leading the Orange in goalscoring. He’s jumped into a key role on special teams, scoring two power-play goals for a new career high and netting his first short-handed goal.
Prestamo has made it loud and clear that he is a force to be reckoned with on the ice, but he’s been quietly making a name for himself off the ice, as well.
A Sport Management major in the Falk College, he took on two internships over the summer: one as a Game Day intern for the Watertown Rapids baseball club, and another as a Marketing intern for Syracuse University Athletics. While interning at Syracuse Athletics, Prestamo played an active role in several teams’ marketing initiatives, including the rebranding of the student section in the Dome from “Otto’s Army” to the “Ozone.”
“Both internships are great, but having a chance to really impact Syracuse University, the place where I’m studying, is something pretty special. Not a lot of people get a chance to do that,” he said, reflecting on the experience.
Prestamo has always taken community service seriously, volunteering as a tour guide and tutor in high school, but he decided to double his efforts in Spring 2019 semester with his participation in LinkedIn’s #PassionProject initiative. His mission: to reach out even further beyond the ice and give more back to the community.
In addition to participating as a youth hockey instructor and also a peer advisor at the Falk College, Prestamo began regularly volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House of Central New York, a program that provides housing to families while their children are hospitalized.
“I just try to make their experience as good as possible, because I’m very fortunate to be where I am and I always try to keep that in mind,” he said of his work at the Ronald McDonald House.
Although injury has limited his participation, Syracuse Club Hockey’s annual Pink the Rink event is always a highlight for him not just because of its alignment with his focus on service, but also because of its deeply personal connection with his family. He said he’s hoping to finally wear a pink jersey against NYU on February 1st.
“Someone very close to me was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, so I’m looking forward to dedicating that game and the rest of my play to them,” Prestamo said, referencing his godmother Christina, who has since recovered after being diagnosed two years ago.
Inspired by the book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Prestamo now approaches life “with the end in mind.”
“You want to think about how you want people to remember you. You know, what’s going to be written on your tombstone?” Prestamo explained. “I’m just thinking every day about the impact that I’m having on the community around me, on my friends and family.”
Yes, Lucas Prestamo is a talented hockey player and a driven scholar with a bright future in sports marketing and management, but his career goals are only brush strokes in what he said is the “big picture.”