At 6’3, 300 pounds, Nick Hallinan is no lineman on a football team, but has had a rollercoaster of a collegiate career with a lacrosse stick in his hand. He is currently on his second college lacrosse team as a junior, with one program being much different from the last. “It was a really big culture shock to me”, Hallinan said.
When the 2017 college lacrosse season was underway, Hallinan was currently the starting goalie for the Wells College Express, a young struggling program. This culture was something new for Hallinan, and he was not particularly fond of it either. “We didn’t even have bleachers. Not a lot of people showed up to our games because nobody really cared”, Hallinan said.
The Well’s lacrosse team has been one of the bottom teams of the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) for a few years now. This is one of the weaker conferences of NCAA lacrosse at the division 3 level. Though the team struggled throughout the season, winning just 4 of 12 games played, individually, Hallinan thrived through his play. As a freshman, Hallinan started all 12 games. He was named conference player of the week multiple times throughout the season, and ended with a 50% save percentage with 168 saves in the net.
Being on a roster whose size was barely enough to field a team, having just 14 players, Hallinan’s high level of play stuck out from most. He was eventually named a captain of the team during the season, which is nothing new as he’s had a history of being a leader. “Every season he loved his team. He was a captain and a leader every year”, said former high school varsity teammate Bennett Fraser.
Hallinan didn’t become a captain the first year of his collegiate career just because of his outstanding play in the goal, but also because of the traits he carried with him from his days of high school ball as well. “He has a great work ethic. He showed up to practice early everyday and worked. He always had himself ready and strived to get better”, Fraser said. His longtime work ethic isn’t just the only thing that makes Hallinan stand out as a lacrosse player, as it’s a combination of his heart and compassion as well. “He always cared about everyone else. He was very encouraging. When his teammates were down, even to the point of not caring anymore, he was always positive. He was always trying to motivate and push his teammates to bring the best out of themselves”, Fraser said. It was only natural Nick became a captain and a leader of his team at the next level.
Despite having a great year for himself, becoming a team captain and doing well statistically in the net, Hallinan was very unhappy with his current situation. After time and consideration, he made the decision to transfer to St. John Fisher College at the start of his sophomore year and finish the remainder of his collegiate lacrosse career there.
Making this decision threw Nick in a completely different situation, coming from a young and struggling program at Wells to a much more established program with a rich history at Fisher. At Wells, Nick was the only goalie on a small roster of 14 players, someone taking his starting position on the field was never a worry for him, as they had nobody else to fill the spot. By transferring to Fisher, who had a team coming off a winning season, he put himself right into the thick of competition. There are three other goalies all competing for the starting spot on the team. “I didn’t know that a lot of guys on this team had so much talent”, Hallinan said. His first year as a part of the St. John Fisher lacrosse roster, Nick was at the bottom of the depth chart as the fourth string goalie.
This setback from playing the full game to no playing time at all did not phase Hallinan as he indicated he’d been doing this for far too long to be distraught and give up now. “The first time I put a stick in my hand and started playing was second grade”, said Nick.
Hallinan’s strong love for the game goes back to a very young age, with family being his biggest inspiration. “He was four years old. His cousin Ryan played lacrosse. We would go to Ryan’s high school games, then Ryan went on to play at the college level at Nazareth. We would always go to his Nazareth games. Nicholas looked up to Ryan more than anybody”, said Greg Hallinan, Nick’s father. “I loved watching him play and I loved the atmosphere of college lacrosse. I wanted to be a part of that”, Nick said.
Nick’s love for the game combined with the strong support of his family has always given him the determination to become a better lacrosse player. Rather than choosing to let being placed last on the depth chart deflate him, he has only used it as a source of motivation to get better. He’s upgraded his training and work ethic. “Every day before practice I try to get a workout in somehow, whether it’s going on the treadmill, lifting, or going for a run on the field. I always try to get extra work in the net before or after practice as well”, Hallinan said. He knows his heavy weight is holding him back, he’s open about it and has even been innovative in different ways on trying to lose it. “My two buddies encouraged me to go on this diet over the summer, the military diet, and even made a bet over it worth a significant amount of money. The deal was that I get their money if I lost 30 pounds in 3 weeks, otherwise I had to pay them. I didn’t reach the goal, but I still lost 25 pounds”, said Hallinan.
Though he fell just 5 pounds short of winning the bet, this has only motivated Nick to continue his pursuit of weight loss. “I’m watching what I’m eating, I’m keeping track of my calories, just simple stuff that makes a difference”, Nick said.
Looking back at the decision to transfer schools and switch teams, which caused Nick to go from a starting team captain, to a bench role, he has no regrets. “We weren’t good at all at Wells. I left because I didn’t like the vibe I got from that program. I wanted to win lacrosse games and compete for a championship. I saw that at Fisher. I saw they have a great program. I saw a future here”, Hallinan said.
This year as a junior, Nick is behind a senior goalie, and is in a deadlock at the 2nd string spot with another goalie on the team. His collegiate career has been quite the journey. His ultimate goal is to be a starter in the net for his senior year. Despite being on the bench for the second year in a row, it’s clear Hallinan still remains fully invested in the team and is excited for what the rest of this season has to offer. “We’re 5 and 0. We can only go upward from here. We’re a better team than last year and nothing’s holding us back”, Nick said.