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Club lacrosse player to represent Greece in World Cup

Club+lacrosse+player+Niko+Kakos+will+go+to+Israel+this+summer+for+the+Federation+of+International+Lacrosse+%28FIL%29+Championship.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Niko+Kaikos.%29
Club lacrosse player Niko Kakos will go to Israel this summer for the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Championship. (Photo courtesy of Niko Kaikos.)

Club lacrosse player Niko Kakos will go to Israel this summer for the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Championship. (Photo courtesy of Niko Kaikos.)

Club lacrosse player Niko Kakos will go to Israel this summer for the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Championship. (Photo courtesy of Niko Kaikos.)

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Marquette club lacrosse senior Niko Kakos has played lacrosse his whole life. Now he’ll get to do it wearing the Greek uniform this summer against the biggest names in lacrosse at the 2018 World Lacrosse Championships in Netanya, Israel.

“Growing up, I never would have imagined I’d be playing lacrosse on an international stage in front of so many foreign fans,” Kakos said.

Kakos almost didn’t come to Marquette; he was one step away from playing lacrosse at Tufts University, the 2014 and 2015 NCAA Division 3 national champions. However, Kakos wanted to play closer to his family in Illinois.

“One of the biggest things for me growing up was to have my family watch me play,” Kakos said. “My mom is my biggest fan, so the Midwest was really enticing.”

Kakos’ father and brother went to Marquette. He decided to send his tape to the Golden Eagles’ coaching staff, which promptly earned him an invite to prospect camp. That’s where Kakos met Marquette recruiting coordinator John Orsen, who is now an assistant coach at Denver University. Orsen implored Kakos to try out at Marquette.

“I was excited,” Kakos said. “I pretty much cut off communications with the other programs and hopes were high.”

Those hopes would quickly be dashed when he tried to get in contact with Orsen for a summer workout and heard nothing back. He then contacted head coach Joe Amplo, who informed Kakos that Orsen left for Denver and the team did not need to hold tryouts.

“That was a little heartbreaking,” Kakos said. “In high school, there’s this D-1 or bust mentality. You play the game you really love, and you were going to get a chance to prove yourself, and it all just went away.”

Kakos started playing club lacrosse his freshman year, but he wasn’t really into it because of the disorganized schedule and relatively low level of play. He contacted the coaches at Tufts and was close to transferring, but his progression as a biomedical science major at Marquette was enough for him to stay.

He hasn’t regretted sticking it out at Marquette for a minute.

“Those club guys are some of my best friends now, and they help me enjoy the game,” Kakos said.

Sophomore teammate Jake Beery thinks Kakos is one of the most fun players he’s ever played with. “He’s so good, and expects us to play at a high level, but still jokes around and has fun,” Beery said.

Kakos’ freshman year was also the Greek lacrosse team’s inaugural season. The team contacted Kakos because his grandparents were born in Greece and invited him to play a tournament with them. He scored three goals in the first game against Israel, including the game-winner in overtime, a shot he still calls “really lucky.”

At that point, the Greek team was more like being in a beer league.“It was just a bunch of Greek-Americans getting together to play,” Kakos said.

Now that Greek team with humble beginnings is officially sanctioned for international play and even fields Division 1 and professional players. And, of course, there’s Kakos, who certainly doesn’t lack any confidence.

“We will be an over .500 team, which is amazing for a first-year program,” Kakos said.

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