Hussey, a standout player, also excels in academic arena

by Lilly Maguire | 11/27/11 11:00pm

On the football field, linebacker Luke Hussey '11 Th'12 is an imposing presence. Standing at six feet tall and weighing over 200 pounds, he completed more than 130 tackles in his collegiate career.

In the classroom, however, Hussey makes an even greater impression. After redshirting his sophomore season, Hussey graduated summa cum laude with a 3.94 GPA in June, and has returned for a fifth year to complete his engineering degree and use his last year of eligibility with the Big Green.

A three-year starting linebacker for Dartmouth, Hussey is now taking on a different role as a Thayer Engineering School student who is completing his BE in environmental engineering. Hussey ended his final college football season in Dartmouth's Nov. 19 win over Princeton University, which catapulted the Big Green into a four-way tie for second place in the Ivy League.

Hussey, who was also inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, was a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which is given to the best football scholar-athlete in the country.

A fourth-generation Dartmouth student, Hussey said he chose to attend the College primarily because he would be able to play football for the Big Green.

"I never felt any pressure from my family to choose Dartmouth it was a personal choice," he said. "If I weren't able to play football here, I don't think I would have come here. I'm glad things worked out the way they did."

Hussey attended Dartmouth summer football camps throughout high school but was not a recruited athlete. Hussey said he struck a deal with the Big Green coaching staff the summer before his senior year of high school, when he was guaranteed that he would have a spot on the football team as a walk on if he attended Dartmouth. He readily accepted, and matriculated at the College just over a year later.

"I was pretty small in high school and I missed my whole junior year because of stress fractures, so I had no film," he said. "It was through the Dartmouth camp here that the coaches got to know me, because I went to a really small high school."

Once he knew he had a spot on the Big Green squad, Hussey amped up his training at his high school, Lakeside School in Seattle, to prepare to play at the collegiate level.

"At the time, I thought I trained hard, but in retrospect it wasn't hard enough," he said. "I learned a lot about training here."

Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens said Hussey's determination soon set him apart from other players.

"He's in the training room all week long," Teevens said. "He's got a toughness that will keep him on the field. People really respect his work ethic."

Hussey took his first steps onto Memorial Field as a relatively small athlete, and initially played at the cornerback position. It was a long progression for Hussey to become the brawny linebacker he is today.

"I was probably sixth or seventh string, but it didn't really matter at that point," Hussey said. "I was just excited to be on the team. It didn't take me long to realize it was going to be a challenge, but I knew I could do it."

Hussey was a member of the junior varsity team during his freshman year and played most of the season in a cast due to a broken thumb.

By his sophomore season, the coaching staff considered moving a recently bulked-up Hussey to the linebacker position. But after playing just a few games on special teams, Hussey's season came to an abrupt end when he tore the labrum in both of his hips.

Hussey said the surgery he needed for injuries posted both academic and athletic concerns.

"I did not want to have to miss the term at that point, so I had the surgery done on the left hip first," he said. "I hobbled around campus on crutches for four weeks, and then had the surgery done on my right hip."

The operations made Hussey miss the rest of the season, giving him the ability to redshirt and use his missed year of eligibility at a later date. He chose to play a fifth year at Dartmouth due to his plans to pursue an engineering degree.

After six months of physical rehabilitation during his sophomore year and a Winter transfer term in Barcelona, Hussey was still not in pre-injury condition for summer practices. Coaches were unsure if he would be well enough to play by the beginning of his junior season, Hussey said.

"All sophomore Summer I was training and getting frustrated with my progress," he said. "The coaches were figuring out if I was going to be on the active roster. In the last six weeks before camp started, everything came together. My hips hurt the whole junior year, but I was able to play."

Hussey started at linebacker his junior season, and Teevens said that from then on he played an invaluable role on the team, both on and off.

"He is a quiet leader, but very inspirational by his play," Teevens said. "His intelligence is not just academic. The game makes sense to him, which to some people it doesn't. He just naturally digests information he sees and communicates it to people around it."

Teevens said Hussey brings the same hard-working mentality that he uses in the classroom to the practice field.

"He is tremendously dedicated to his training," Teevens said. "He puts himself in the optimal position to perform, and has the same academic [modus operandi]."

This season, Hussey was named to the Capital One Academic All-District Football team by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Hussey said that the key to his academic and sporting success is discipline.

"Even though football takes up so much of your time, in a way your day becomes more structured because of it," he said. "It's almost easier to be efficient with your time if you're busy. It's a matter of being as organized as possible, especially in season. I knew that I didn't have a lot of time to get stuff done so I couldn't afford to not focus."

Hussey said he is unsure of his career plans beyond completing his engineering degree, but that he would like to move back to the West Coast, where he grew up and his family still lives, and potentially pursue a career in renewable energy.

"I'd like to see my brother play in his senior year of college football in California," he said.

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