Get out of his way

Sharkey meant business on football and lacrosse fields

Bench press, leg workouts, and 5:30 a.m. practices are just some of the things that made James Sharkey, arguably, the most feared athlete in Lynnfield.

That is – if you were going against him. But if you were on his team, Sharkey was as good as it got in football and lacrosse.

The senior made 80 tackles alongside seven interceptions at linebacker during his senior football season, while running for nearly 400 yards and nine touchdowns as a running back.

“James is a heart-and-soul guy,” said Pat Lamusta, who coached Sharkey in both football and lacrosse.

The Pioneers impressed in lacrosse this year, too, advancing to the Division 4 Elite 8 before falling to powerhouse Sandwich.

Sharkey was one of the program’s top players – beginning to end. Look no further than Lynnfield’s season-opener against Masconomet (he sent two players to the turf in about 30 seconds).

“And super physical,” Lamusta said.

Sharkey ended his high-school career by playing in both the football and lacrosse Agganis All-Star Games. Not bad, James.

That said, what goes into the making of a linebacker/defender that physical?

Well, it starts with his “hit or be hit” mindset, which began in fourth grade when he picked up football.

“I was a bigger kid, so it kind of came easy to me,” Sharkey, who also plays basketball, said. “I found some success (and) found some confidence… It’s a mindset. You’ve got to be willing to put your body out there.”

Nine years later, that confidence hasn’t gone anywhere for Sharkey, who said his favorite part of football is how every play comes with, well, some sort of contact.

Oh, and he brought some of that mindset to lacrosse.

“I don’t know any other sport, or any other situation, where you get to beat someone up for two hours with a 6-foot pole,” Sharkey said.

He also credited his parents, Tim and Bridget, for showing him what hard work looks like.

“They’ve taught me how important it is to work hard, and how it’s the only way to succeed in anything,” Sharkey said.

Then there’s the work the fans don’t see, aka, strength and conditioning. With Lamusta coaching both programs, summer workouts often overlapped between football and lacrosse.

“The workouts in the summer – they’re open to football kids and lacrosse kids,” Sharkey said. “It’s geared towards both a little bit.”

And ask any great athlete – they don’t skip leg day.

“A lot of it starts in the gym,” Sharkey said. “A lot of power comes from the legs, and from bench press [and] lateral movements to get the agility up.”

On top of his mindset and behind-the-scenes work, he said he wouldn’t have been the same player without his fellow Pioneers – especially at a school where several athletes picked up both sports.

“When it’s 90 degrees, going up and down, lifting weights, it sucks,” Sharkey said. “But going through it with people, it builds a bond you don’t really break… You see your friends and you’re like, ‘Oh, OK.’”

This fall, Sharkey begins his freshman year of college at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where – not surprisingly – one of his goals is to remain active.

“Walking onto the football team – it will be tough [and] I’m considering that as an option,” Sharkey said. “If that doesn’t happen, I’m going to try and play for a club lacrosse team.”