By Ben Shapiro
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – For all the long hours spent as a student-athlete, there is one time of day that sticks out in Andrew Lacey '89's mind as being the most memorable. Waking up on Saturday mornings in the fall – game day – to make the walk across campus toward the soccer field still resonates with him to this day. It is one part of the positive experience he had as a men's soccer player at Wesleyan, an experience he is committed to helping provide to others through his support of the athletics program and the university as a whole.
Lacey, who currently serves as the deputy chairman for Lazard Asset Management LLC in New York City, has been extremely generous to Wesleyan, offering financial support and a great deal of time and effort to help improve the institution in a number of ways. Among the areas he has been most involved in are the Cardinal Fund for Athletics, the men's soccer program and Wesleyan's financial aid program.
As a student-athlete, Lacey excelled throughout campus. He played in the New England Intercollegiate Soccer League's All-Star game as a senior, was a senior interviewer for the Office of Admissions, and graduated from the College of Social Studies with Honors. More recently, he was a founding member and served on the Athletic Advisory Council from 2007-2010, and he is a current member of the Wesleyan President's Council.
Reflecting back on his time as a student-athlete, Lacey says what sticks out is "the camaraderie and the friendships, both within the soccer team and beyond it in the greater Wesleyan community."
Lacey specifically noted Adam Rohdie, who he met on the first day of practice freshman year. The two would end up as roommates for the next three years and they remain close today, more than thirty years later. As Lacey put it, "The long-term friendships from Wesleyan that endure are incredibly important."
The decision to support Wesleyan athletics at such a high level was one motivated by a number of factors, among them being Lacey's belief in the role they can play at the university. "Athletics and participation on a team is an integral part of the Wesleyan experience, and part of many students' liberal arts education," he remarked.
He also is a firm believer in the visions of President Michael Roth '78 and Director of Athletics Mike Whalen '83, highlighting their strong leadership and expectation of athletic excellence as a driving force behind his motivation to become even more supportive of the program. In fact, it was through discussions with Whalen and men's soccer head coach Geoff Wheeler that Lacey determined that one of the areas where his financial support could be most impactful was by investing more into coaching.
"They made the case for having another assistant coach, and it made sense for why they wanted that," Lacey said. "The demands on all the coaches at Wesleyan can be intense, and the competitiveness around trying to get great student-athletes, with the recruiting and watching video, is strenuous. Making sure that Wesleyan's teams are on par with the other leaders in the NESCAC was something I valued."
Lacey's multiple-year gift to establish more depth within the coaching ranks underscores his long-term commitment to athletics, as the benefits of an additional coach generally develop over time. "I do not think it is one of those things where the results are overnight," he explained. "You make a commitment like this because you believe over five to 10 years it will make a positive difference for the experience the players have."
That is not to say that Lacey's support has not already had an impact in other ways, something Whalen noted. "He has done an amazing job mentoring several of our student-athletes over the years who are interested in pursuing a career in finance or Wall Street," the Director of Athletics said. "Over the past seven years we have made some positive strides with our varsity programs, and many of them would not have been possible without the support of alumni like Andrew Lacey."
In the same way that a strong athletic program can contribute to the experience of many students, Lacey also sees immense value in maintaining a student population from a wide variety of backgrounds, which is why he has also chosen to support financial aid. "Wesleyan needs to continue to be a great community driven by, in part, the economic diversity of people who attend," he said.
Looking back on his time as a student-athlete, Lacey says what sticks out now is how much he learned about what it means to be on a team, the value of hard work, and the importance of handling the tough times just as well as the good. These are lessons not uncommon for student-athletes to come away with, but for Lacey they have had a significant impact on him and his decision to offer such tremendous support for others, both at Wesleyan and also in some of the other groups with which he is involved, such as the Link Community Charter School in Newark, N.J., and the Montclair Art Museum.
Lacey, whose brother Danny is an 1996 Wesleyan alumnus, currently resides in Montclair, N.J., with his wife Wendy and children Paige, Evelyn, Derek and Abby.