Published February 8, 2021 at 3:38pm.
Story by Nancy McGuire. Photos by Jan Osborn.
“All in, all the time,” that’s how Demarieh Wesley’s friends and mentors describe him. As a young 18-year-old, a budding lacrosse star, a college student, and a community volunteer, Demarieh is living life to the fullest, despite several obstacles put in place by the pandemic conditions.
Although Demarieh should be walking the hallowed halls on the campus of Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia right now, he is making the most of his time spent here in Dallas, while classes remain virtual for a second semester. He should also be making strides down the Hampton lacrosse field as a scholarship athlete this spring, but all that has been put on pause while the world is in the throes of a pandemic. He is not bitter nor is he deterred from making the most of his given situation. “I am looking forward to getting my college and lacrosse careers started, but it is what it is.” This is sage wisdom for a young person who has so much to accomplish.
Demarieh was introduced to lacrosse as a seventh-grade student at Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy (BOMLA), an all-boys Dallas ISD magnet school in southern Dallas. Bridge Lacrosse, started in 2008, is a nonprofit lacrosse program, that brings the game of lacrosse to students living in South Dallas, as their mission states “… to use lacrosse to broaden the horizons of our community’s youth.” Most of their participants are Black or Hispanic and have never seen the sport many consider to be a sport of the privileged. The program strives to do more than just teach athletic skills for the field but also to form students through exposure to activities outside their communities. Bridge provides after-school/Saturday homework sessions and travel opportunities, as well as college preparation courses so that all players are ready for their next steps after they graduate from high school.
David Higbee, the executive director of Bridge, is a coach and mentor to the kids who come through his program. With the help of many volunteers and supporters from all over Dallas, he and the board members have made Bridge a community treasure. Higbee remembers one of his first encounters with Demarieh. He was watching a game Demarieh was playing in Denton. On his third foul, he was ejected for the remainder of the game. Quite upset and dejected, David talked on the sideline with Demarieh. They discussed what happened, how he could learn from this experience, and how he could turn his attitude from anger to a more positive outlook. Demarieh never had another problem from that day forward.
In ninth grade, Demarieh transferred to Skyline High School where he was the only student playing lacrosse. Not only did he play football for Skyline in the fall, but he also practiced nightly with Bridge and became the Team Captain his sophomore year until he graduated in June 2020. Playing a sport that is overwhelmingly played by white students, has not made Demarieh think twice about dedicating himself to the game of lacrosse. He has always felt that his skills are well suited to the game and he has earned the opportunity to play on any field, anywhere. His hard work has paid off in the form of a DI scholarship to attend Hampton to play lacrosse while studying Sports Management.
While he played for the travel team, Chaos Lacrosse, in the summers of his high school years, Demarieh worked as a counselor for the younger kids attending Bridge camps. Although he is a pretty humble guy, Higbee said Demarieh is “100% for Bridge,” and serves as a role model for the younger ones who look up to him, in awe of his playing skills. His hard work and tenacity on and off the field have earned him the respect of all who have had the pleasure to meet him. When plans for college got derailed and classes moved online, Demarieh was given the opportunity to become an intern at the Mark Cuban Heroes Basketball Center to help with operations. Several days a week, he reports for work after his classes to check visitors into the center and assist with special events. Last fall, he had the opportunity and honor of working alongside Dirk Nowitzki at a food distribution event coordinated by Heroes. And of course, he continues to give back to Bridge by coaching some of the program’s youngest players.
Demarieh continues to work out daily so that he will be in shape when he reports to Hampton in the fall, and he is keeping his lacrosse skills sharp. He appreciates the support system he has in place and is close to his grandfather, a former Dallas ISD history teacher. His grandfather and father have both encouraged Demarieh to be a leader and to take charge of his destiny, a lesson he is living every day.