Waterford lacrosse player overcomes birth defect to play for Navy
Nov 11, 2019 04:37PM
● By Ron Bevan
Waterford junior Jaimeson Meyer led all scorers across the state last year in girls lacrosse. Meyer has accepted an offer to play for the United States Naval Academy. (Photo courtesy Monique Mezo)
By Ron Bevan | [email protected]
A set of twins has done their part in representing Waterford in sports, academics and music. Now the pair is ready to represent the nation.
Jaimeson Meyer, the female half of the twins, has already started the ball rolling, accepting an offer to play for the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Jaimeson will become the first Utahn to play for the Naval Academy.
“The coaches called me July 1, which is the first day the military academies can contact female athletes,” Jaimeson said. “I had a relationship already building with them because I went to their lacrosse camps. I knew them and they knew me.”
A week later the coach called again and asked if she could come out to do a home visit.
“We talked for over three hours when she came here and she immediately offered me a spot on the team,” Jaimeson said.
Meanwhile, her brother Jack is hoping to do the same, but for the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Jaimeson and Jack are the 17-year-old children of Mike Meyer and Monique Mezo of Sandy.
While Jaimeson already knows her future, Jack has to wait because the different academies like to see how the male athletes develop through their final school years. Both Jack and Jaimeson are juniors at Waterford. Ironically, while Jaimeson has her future lacrosse career already secured, it was Jack who first played the sport.
“I was sitting on the sidelines of Jack’s practice when we were younger,” Jaimeson said. “I just picked up a stick and started practicing with the girls team that was also practicing at the same time.”
The girls Jaimeson was practicing with turned out to be Juan Diego High School’s team and she was only in fifth grade. Seeing her interest, her mother began a middle school team to help Jaimeson improve.
Jaimeson’s talent for the sport grew quickly. It didn’t take long until her parents were being told she had talent and they should find coaches that could elevate her game.
She ended up under the tutelage of a coach in Park City who was known for his own lacrosse talents. From there, she ended up on a national team, playing against top lacrosse athletes along the East Coast.
“Lacrosse is a huge sport in the eastern states,” said her father, Mike. “The game back there is so much different than here. Jaimeson wondered if she could play East Coast lacrosse and playing on the national team helped her understand the game better and realize her abilities.”
But playing sports was almost not in Jaimeson’s future. Monique found out during her pregnancy that one of her twins had a club foot, a condition where one or both feet appear to be rotated internally at the ankle. For Jaimeson, it meant one foot was turned inward.
“We found out early enough and we were able to research it. By the time I was set to deliver we had a plan,” Monique said. “We were able to find out what to do about it and found a doctor that practiced at the University of Iowa. We would fly back and forth for treatment.”
Doctors used serial casting, a series of casts used to hold and stretch muscles, on Jaimeson’s foot. In addition, she would need tendon replacement and different surgeries.
“She was in a cast more of her young life than not in a cast,” Monique said.
Jaimeson was even wearing a thigh high cast when she first began playing soccer. She still plays soccer as a goalkeeper for Waterford, and is the point guard on its basketball team.
The twins’ interest in attending one of the military academies stems from their family background.
Joe Mezo, Monique’s father, got the ball rolling, enlisting in the army during World War II. Joe would make a career of the army, retiring later in life as a lieutenant colonel.
“He taught us the value of hard work and loving your country, and my children were very, very close to him,” Monique said.
In addition, many of the twins’ uncles attended various military academies. But perhaps the most visible role model was in their own home. Mike graduated from the Air Force Academy and went on to fly fighter jets before retiring to a second career in the airline industry.
“The military is in my blood,” Jaimeson said. “I have always thought the military schools were cool. They teach you so much about leadership. It is such a unique opportunity. It is one of the best educations in the country and afterward I get to travel around the world.”
At one point Jaimeson thought of going to the Air Force Academy to follow in her father’s footsteps. But she wanted a more competitive atmosphere when it came to lacrosse.
“Air Force didn’t have a Division I program for women’s lacrosse,” Jaimeson said. “Not only does Navy have a Division I team, but they have been in the top four teams in the nation several times.”
Although she has a spot on the team, Jaimeson isn’t completely in at Navy yet. Like all military academies, Navy has certain requirements students must meet before being accepted. These include good grades in high school, a fitness test, physical exam and a nomination from a senator.
Jack has another year to wait to see if he will be attending the Air Force Academy. Like his sister, Jack is a three-sport athlete at Waterford, adding golf and basketball to his lacrosse resume.
“I started golf my sophomore year because I can’t not be playing a sport,” Jack said. “It filled in the fall schedule for me. It turned out to be very fun.”
Jack also plays center for the basketball team, but it is lacrosse where he excels. It is the sport he began playing in the fifth grade.
Last year, he played in the midfield position, but hopes to play attack this spring.
“I had been interested in lacrosse before that and was fiddling around with lacrosse sticks, so it was natural for me to start playing,” Jack said.
Jack has been going to lacrosse camps sponsored by the Air Force Academy. He also has played on a club team coached by the son of a former Air Force coach.
“I chose the Air Force Academy because I have always wanted to be a pilot, and I have always wanted to fly fighter jets just like my dad,” Jack said.
When the pair isn’t tearing up other teams on the fields and courts, they stay busy playing in the school orchestra. Jaimeson plays the violin while Jack plays the cello. The pair even went on tour through Finland, Russia and Estonia last year.
“We got to play in a lot of very cool venues,” Jack said.