Name: Mikaila Cheeseman
School: Suffern High School
Sport: Girls lacrosse
Athletic accomplishments: Cheeseman had eight saves and allowed two goals as of Thursday’s games. She’s a five-year member of the varsity lacrosse team. She’s in her fourth season as the goalie for the Mounties. Last year, she was a Nike Northeast Player of the Week. She’s been all-section, all-league, and was an all-American last year. Cheeseman will play lacrosse next year at the University of Pennsylvania.
Academic accomplishments: Cheeseman has a 3.834 GPA. She’ll be attending the University of Pennsylvania next year. She’s a member of the National Honor Society and Italian National Honor Society. She’s on the High Honor Roll. Cheeseman’s taking University Italian, Albany Calculus, Advanced Economics and Advanced Forensics through the Syracuse University project. She’s also taking a couple of honors courses.
School and community involvement: Cheeseman is a member of Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.). She volunteers at Team KJ run in Pearl River and the multicultural night at Smith Clove K/1 Center. She helps out at the Suffern Youth lacrosse clinics.
Getting to know Mikaila Cheeseman
The Journal News: Did you always want to be a goalie?
Mikaila Cheeseman: When I was in seventh grade, I was an attacker. Our goalie didn’t show up one game so I happened to step in and I had a great first game. I said to myself, “I like this” and I stuck with it. I think it’s an advantage for me having been an attacker because I know the mindset of one — knowing the moves and where they’re planning on going.
TJN: What’s it like to have not only your dad (Eddie) coaching you in second grade but now being one of the coaches at Suffern?
MC: It’s great. His twin brother (Jim) was an all-America goalie. So when (Eddie) was growing up, he was constantly shooting on his brother so he picked up some things about being a goaltender. At first I wasn’t even a goalie but he was always there being my biggest supporter. Now that I’m the goalie, he’s the goalie coach. We get a lot of time together because of that and we get to bond over that. I think it’s something a lot of people don’t have.
TJN: How much of a help has your uncle (Jim) been in your prep work as a goalie?
MC: That’s a big thing. He knows everything about the game. When I was first starting, I practiced with him all the time, gave me so many tips and I think it was a huge advantage for me.
TJN: When you get to UPenn next year, do you know what you want to study?
MC: To be honest, I’m not really sure yet. UPenn is great about going in undecided. They have so many different courses and I want to try out things before I make any decisions.
TJN: What are some of the courses you’d be interested in trying?
MC: For the longest time, I wanted to be an orthodontist. I thought I’d go and take all science courses – all biology and see if I like it. I think I’m still going to do that and take Intro to Biology and see if I like it. If I don’t like it, I won’t do well becoming an orthodontist. I was also thinking – I’ve got connections to people who do law school. It’s another option for me, too. It’s two different sides of spectrum so I think I need to try all different things, those different courses, to see what I’m truly interested in.
TJN: How important has it been to be diversified in what classes you take?
MC: I’ve tried to do that with all my courses. I’ve tried to spread them out so differently. It’s hard in high school and not like the college courses, which are more in depth, but I at least want to get a feel of the different sides of everything I like. It’s worked and I need to pursue it a little more once I get there.
TJN: Did you always want to be well-rounded in the coursework you took?
MC: Going into high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so I looked to my older friends on the lacrosse team to ask them about courses to suggest. I started along the path most eighth-graders do going into high school. Once I got to junior year, I kind of went off-path and took physics. I love physics, then I knew, instead of going into AP Physics, which most people do when they excel in physics, I wanted to try different things to get a feel of it. I get to go into school and get a background in every subject.
TJN: Why did you want to take Advanced Forensics?
MC: After taking physics my teacher tried to push me to take AP Physics but I heard so much about the Advanced Forensics class and I asked my parents. They said I should try it. It wasn’t like I had this huge interest in forensics. I wanted to get a background and I’ve learned things in this class that I never imagined I’d learn. I learned how to fingerprint.
TJN: What’s it like giving back to the sport of lacrosse through the Suffern Youth clinics?
MC: I think that’s probably the best. I started in the second grade so I have so many pictures from when I was in second grade. I get to look at these second-graders and think this was me. I remember being in second grade and third grade and throughout elementary school looking up to these high-schoolers thinking they were the greatest people to walk the face of the earth. I wanted to be those girls and now I get to look at these younger girls and hopefully they get the same thought about me.
TJN: What’s your favorite memory with those kids?
MC: At the Section 1 final game last year, all the peewees were holding a sign, cheering for your name and that’s an unreal feeling.
The Journal News Rockland Scholar-Athlete of the Week program honors students for their academic, athletic and community achievements. Each week a winner is selected from nominees submitted by athletic directors. Only seniors can be nominated, and the award can be won only once. Nominations must be received by 5 p.m. Monday. The presenting sponsor for The Journal News Rockland Scholar-Athlete program is Gary Goldberg Financial Services.