It takes a lot to stand out as an athlete at St. John's Prep, which got a ton of attention this spring when it made a video featuring graduates from Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, National Football League and National Basketball Association.
This summer, though, there's only one pro athlete that used to be an Eagle who could be selected for a Major League all-star team.
James Fahey is in the midst of his best season in Major League Lacrosse, helping lead a resurgent Boston Cannons defense. His outstanding play had landed him on the ballot for the MLL all-star game being played at the end of the month in Maryland.
A Boxford native and University of Massachusetts grad, Fahey is one of 25 defensemen on the fan ballot, which is open for voting online through Monday. Now in his fourth professional season, Fahey looks at a potential all-star nod as icing on the cake.
"Anything you do, when you put in years of work and try your best, you kind of want that gratification and credit for what you put in," he explained. "It's a great tribute to be among those guys, even just among the 10 guys from our team on the list. It's really hard to plays at this level: Everyone in the league is a specimen, everyone has years on top of years of experience. Any all-star is a tribute to the guys putting in the work and bringing it every single week."
It was only 12 months ago that Fahey made his return to Boston after they'd traded him to Atlanta in 2017. He'd played three games for the Blaze and came back to the Cannons last July, playing in three games while Boston finished 5-9.
He and the rest of the squad, coached by former Endicott boss Sean Quirk, came back energized and ready to turn things around in 2019. The Cannons have done exactly that, winning their first three games of the year. They're are 3-1 headed into this week's game, Sunday at Dallas.
"We returned the majority, if not all, of our offense and that cohesiveness on the offensive end is big," said Fahey, who excels at long stick midfield and close D. "Defensively, we're all fairly new. I'm the only returning pole, but we're a good team with definitely no egos. It's a tight bunch and that shows; even with our loss, there was no finger pointing. It was on to the next game."
At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, the 27-year-old Fahey matches up well with any variety of potential attackers. An All-American on defense at St. John's Prep, he helped the Eagles up-end Duxbury for the 2010 Division 1 state title with an artful end-to-end goal that has to be the short list of best individual plays by a North Shore athlete this decade.
The Salem News Player of the Year that season went on to a standout career for the Minutemen, leading the Colonial Athletic Conference in turnovers as a senior. Whether it's patrolling a zone and jump starting the attack the other way in midfield, or getting close to the opponent and shutting down dodgers and shooters, Fahey can still do it all defensively.
"We have a very athletic defense, a lot of poles that can do both (mid and close D), so we have a pretty good idea of who's going to succeed where," Fahey said. "With such a long season, after four or five games we can kind of realize who can plug in. The first three games, I played a lot of close D. It was nice to be on the field the whole game, focusing on that one individual matchup.
"But I like LSM too. That's my calling, how I've stayed in the league for as many years as I have."
Like any pro athlete, Fahey feels like the experience he's gained at the Major League level is an instrumental part of his success.
"You look at the top prospects going from college football to the NFL or college basketball to the NBA, usually you have to give them two or three years before they get that big role," he said. "The thing that's changed for me is the mental side. With the experience, you get used to the speed and you go in with a different level of confidence: You know you've had success, you know the ins-and-outs of what to expect."
It's also been something of a growth period for Fahey and the Cannons. It's the first season with a full-time home at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Quincy and they've averaged more than 4,000 fans for their first three home games. This year, NBC Sports Boston is also televising all of Boston's games; that coupled with the early success had created an energetic vibe around the sport.
"I'll hear from friends that are just out at bars on weekends, 'Hey, I saw your game on TV, I didn't know it was on TV.' That's been kind of cool," Fahey said. "I think the sport is growing. You look around at the games and recognize a lot of fans in their teens, 20's, 30's. There's a different magnitude of fan interactions in Quincy and it's been great."
Working as a fitness instructor, Fahey is studying to become a physical therapist once his playing days are over. He'd love to be able to give back to the sports world, helping athletes the way the various trainers and health pro's have helped him over the years in a rewarding way.
Before that, he's got plenty of unfinished business on the field. Boston has played only a quarter of its season with 12 games left. Of the six teams in MLL, four make the playoffs and the Cannons would like nothing more than to make their first postseason appearance since 2015.
"We have a great opportunity to make that push," Fahey said. "It's a really competitive league. You play everybody two or three times, even four or five if you see them in the playoffs, and I think that adds a little more personality and emotion.
Plenty of players might be satisfied with treading water three and four years into a professional career. Not Fahey, who continues to have a great competitive fire and is driven to improve himself year-after-year and game-after game.
"I'm happy. Every single week I get to play, I'm happy," Fahey said. "I take each week as a blessing and keep going on."
VOTE FOR FAHEY
You can vote for Boxford native James Fahey for the Major League Lacrosse all-star game by visiting Cannons.MajorLeagueLacrosse.com or checking out the Cannons on Twitter @BostonCannons. Fahey, an All-American at St. John's Prep in the Class of 2010, is nominated as a defenseman.