Michael Makiej may not be following his father’s footsteps on the basketball court, but he looks to reach new heights as a high jumper on the UML men’s track and field team
While Makiej played basketball growing up, he joined the track and field team as a junior at Andover High School in Andover, Massachusetts. His father, Walter, played basketball for two of UMass Lowell’s predecessor institutions, Lowell State College and University of Lowell, in the mid-1970s.
Despite joining the team halfway through high school, he became a team captain and a two-time Merrimack Valley Conference high jump champion.
“My dad has been really supportive of me doing track and field, because he sees it as me being able to forge my own path and go my own way,” Makiej says.
From there, Makiej knew he wanted to compete at the Division I level and stay close to home. With many friends and coaches speaking highly of UMass Lowell, including then-assistant coach Kerstin Darsney ’18, ’19, Makiej saw UML as the perfect fit.
“It just seemed like such a fantastic place for me,” he said. “I just got this very good impression from all these different people.”
Majoring in philosophy
and political science
, Makiej says he has long been interested in the “foundational principles” of life and seeks to understand how they are applied in the real world.
“Why do people do things that they do? What is their morality? Where do our ethics come from? These types of bigger questions always fascinated me,” he says.
Makiej continues to thrive at the collegiate level, both on and off the field. He earned the America East Track and Field Elite 18 Award as the athlete with the highest GPA among those to finish in the top eight during the outdoor conference championship in May. He was also named to the conference’s all-academic team this spring with a 3.97 GPA.
With demanding time commitments for his academic and athletic endeavors, Makiej says managing his schedule has been paramount to his success.
“As long as you stick to a schedule and keep it consistent, you're able to accomplish a lot more than you initially think you can,” he says. “That's always been a big part of my ability to stay on top of doing track and having two majors.”
Heading into his senior year, Makiej remains motivated to add to his list of accolades. His goal is to win the America East indoor track and field high jump championship. After that, he plans to return to UMass Lowell for graduate school, go on to law school and eventually work in politics.
“There are a lot of different moving parts on that, but I'm looking forward to all of it,” he says.