The Learning Games

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 “I smell the sweat in my pads and it makes me hungry for greatness. I taste the dirt, turf and grime. I hear the whistle blow, and I attack with speed and grace. I feel the metal stick in my glove, and it makes me feel like a warrior ready for battle. I see the enemy, and I smile because I know I am superior.” -Marcus Cheatham '12

Marcus Cheatham ‘13

Turbo-charged For Success

When the whistle sounds, men’s lacrosse player Marcus Cheatham charges the field, immersing himself in the game he’s played since he was 7 years old. Combining the fast-paced action of basketball and the brute force of football, lacrosse is an explosive full-contact sport, marked by the whoops and hollers of players that harken back to the game’s ancestral founding among Native Americans—a factor that contributes to Cheatham’s admiration for the sport. “I love the fact that it is the ‘first American sport,’” says the defensive midfielder.

“It’s not a sport you see every day,” Cheatham adds, “and the fact that it has this tie to our country’s history is incredible.”

The senior business administration–entrepreneurship major from Reisterstown, Md., was encouraged by his mother to play lacrosse. Because it is a Caucasian-dominated sport and Maryland is one of the most competitive states in which to play it, Cheatham says, his mother thought lacrosse could “open more doors of opportunity for me.” And she was right.

Lacrosse ultimately brought Cheatham to Susquehanna, where he plays under head coach Stewart Moan, who earned his 200th career victory last season with a 12–9 win over the University of Scranton. In 2010, Cheatham’s sports involvement led him to Orlando for the NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership forum, which he and Lisa Finizio ’12 were hand-selected to attend. But in the spirit of the DIII sports philosophy, which places highest priority on the overall educational experience, one could argue that Cheatham’s most significant growth occurred off the playing field.

When Cheatham crossed paths with senior Ryan Rossi in an art history class, the pair quickly formed a mutual respect for each other’s style. This prompted Cheatham to share his brainchild, Paradigm Wear, with Rossi, a creative writing major from Rye, N.Y. Cheatham’s creativity and the philosophy behind his ideas appealed to Rossi, and the two quickly formed a plan to launch a streetwear line that speaks to a generation.

Touted as more than a clothing company, Paradigm Wear is described as “the manifestation of a perpetual lifestyle.” According to their website, www.paradigmwear.com, the clothing line, which has already attracted major investors and a loyal customer base, “offers value and inspiration to the current generation through a unique style of symbolism.”

“Most streetwear companies in today’s industry offer well-known yet meaningless images. People are buying the brand rather than what is actually portrayed on the shirt. What makes us different from streetwear companies is the message we show through our artistic graphic design. … These aren’t just graphic designs of logos and regular objects; these are images and words that encourage buyers to achieve their full potential in life.”

The art displayed on each product follows the themes of proactivity, leadership, the celebration of individuality, and exceeding one’s expectations—ideals Cheatham exemplifies both on and off the playing field. Driven by a mindset that never accepts failure, Cheatham rarely sleeps and struggles with tendinitis in both knees as he works to run his own company, dominate his sport and maintain a 3.0 grade point average. It’s a daunting task, but one that he eagerly accepts.

“Pain is only weakness leaving the body,” Cheatham says. “Every human must learn to struggle in order to succeed.”

But why does he so eagerly accept the hard work that comes with being a student-athlete? Is winning the big payoff? To this, Cheatham simply says, “paradigm.” It’s been a very strong word throughout history, he says, noting the paradigm shifts in art and literature during the Renaissance. He believes that people are in an everlasting state of change, or paradigm shift, and failure helps them find new ways of winning.

“It’s like when you’re lifting,” he says. “You push your body to failure, but you keep on working … You always have to keep pushing yourself. You can’t take a day off.”

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