The reigning NCAA Division III national champion in wrestling says the sport taught him to never give up.
Since first grade, wrestling has played a vital role in Nathan Lackman’s life.
“There was this flyer going around at school about wrestling, and in my mind, I thought it was about World Wrestling Entertainment,” recalls Lackman, a RIC senior graduating with a political science degree and a minor in business management. “That’s what I thought I was getting myself into, but it was much different than that.”
The Wernersville, Pennsylvania, native who now resides in Cumberland didn’t consider that wrestling was moreso a mental exercise.
“Wrestling is 80 percent mental and 20 percent discipline,” he says. “You can know all the wrestling in the world, but if you don’t have the right mindset and believe in yourself, none of it matters.”
Recently, Lackman emerged victorious in the 2023 NCAA Division III Wrestling National Championship in a match with his younger brother, Matthew, a student at Alvernia University. He says it didn’t kick in until weeks after his victory what he had accomplished.
“When you’re in competition mindset, you don’t think of winning a championship like that. All I could do was go out there and give it all I had. I knew other wrestlers were gunning for me, but I never felt pressured to win,” he says.
Stephen Masi ’19, Lackman’s best friend and an assistant wrestling coach at RIC, says Lackman was an anchor for him during the grueling wrestling season.
“Nate put RIC on the map as the top wrestler in New England history,” Masi says. “He’s helped the school land top-level recruits and we’ve returned to a high place in the rankings. That’s a testament to Nate’s character and selfless acts. He’s like a little brother to me.”
The NCAA championship win represented the pinnacle of Lackman’s longtime wrestling career. Now he’s preparing to make his mark on the financial planning industry. As a financial planner, he wants to service people in their 60s and 70s and help them make decisions regarding retirement. Since 2021 he’s worked as a customer service specialist at Pensionmark Meridien Financial Group in Providence.
RIC Assistant Professor of Political Science Natalie Rogol, who taught and advised Lackman, says she’s confident he will “knock it out of the park” in the financial advising field. During his time at RIC, he’s been on the dean’s list four times and earned the K. Joseph Shekarchi Speaker and the Rhode Island House of Representatives Scholar-Athlete Award.
“Whatever job he picks, he’s going to be a success,” Rogol says. “He’s one of those people who possesses strong character, leadership, social skills and expresses pure kindness to other people. When I’ve had other wrestlers in my class, you can tell that they respect and look up to him.”
Lackman intends to turn his attention to helping his little brother and other young wrestlers at the Iron Faith Wrestling Club in Warwick, where’s he an assistant coach.
He’ll leave them with his prescription for success, recalling when he once was an underweight youngster who almost quit wrestling.
“I’m the kid who never gave up,” he says. “My value is so much greater than a win or loss. But, in life, with whatever you want to do, it can be reached if you refuse to let failure define you.”