Ernesto and Esmeralda Lacayo
Ernesto Lacayo is no ordinary kicker. The first kicker in Bronco history to be named a team captain, the senior from Hayward, Calif., has played his last game for Hastings College, but plans to continue to change the standard of what a kicker can do.
“Many people think kickers aren’t football players. I want to change that standard,” Ernesto said. “I have a helmet. I have shoulder pads. I’m going to hit. I’m going to be on the field before everybody else, and I’m going to be there at the end.”
Bronco Football Coach Paul Mierkiewicz says Ernesto has all the key qualities needed to have a real chance at entering the National Football League. Ernesto plans to dedicate the next few years to pursuing that opportunity.
“Ernesto has been one of the hardest working and dedicated players I have ever been around,” Coach Mierkiewicz said. “He’s brought so much to our team day in and day out, on and off the field. We’re going to miss him.”
The 7-12 history education major is among the best in the conference and has been one of the best field goal kickers in the NAIA over the past two years. He’s hit all of his extra point kicks, and he’s a consistent punter. Beyond his talent on the field, Coach Mierkiewicz says Ernesto is an all-around great guy who positively affects everyone around.
Ernesto’s sister, Esmeralda ’12, is a top player on the women’s soccer team. In the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) tournament final, Esmeralda scored all four goals needed for her team to move on to the NAIA national tournament. The Bronco women advanced to the NAIA National Championship title game from a run that included upsets of the Nos. 16, 1 and 9-seeded national teams. The women earned National Runner-up after a loss to Lee University (Tenn.) 3-0 in the national title match and ended their season with a record of 17-5-3.
“Having my brother at my games just makes me want to perform at my best,” Esmeralda said. “He has made my experience here at Hastings that much more comforting.”
Ernesto believes his and Esmeralda’s success on the field and in the classroom has a lot to do with their parents.
“They taught us how to work hard and to never let your guard down,” Ernesto said about his parents. “We saw how hard our parents worked. I’m not the most vocal person,” Ernesto said about his own leadership style. “I want my work ethic to lead by example.”
Even beyond his dedication for football, Ernesto says his number one passion is teaching. For Ernesto, it was knowing and seeing good teachers while growing up that inspired this passion. His grandmother was a teacher in El Salvador, and his mother is a nurse. He talks about how fortunate he was to have a great teacher in middle school and to now have professors at Hastings College that inspire him to continue to pursue his passion.
“There’s Professor Babcock, Professor Laegreid, Professor Avent … I don’t know if they know how much they inspire me and allow me to be a part of something I love,” Ernesto said. “I’m a student athlete. Anyone can be an athlete, not everyone can say they are a student athlete.”