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Grossmont College changed Tyrent Lackey’s life.


“I barely graduated from high school,” Lackey said. “I graduated with a 2.3 GPA, and that’s including wood shop. I came to Grossmont College because I really didn’t know what else to do.”


The rest, as they say, is history. Lackey, who had been playing water polo since he was 9, starred on the Griffin water polo team, was named the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Co-Player of the Year, and was voted onto the All-SoCal first team and All-America first team while also serving as team captain.


His talents took him to UC San Diego, where Lackey continued to shine; he was a Division I and Division II All-American, a Division II MVP, and a finalist for the Peter J. Cutino Award – considered the most prestigious individual award in collegiate water polo. He also led the Tritons to the NCAA Final Four of water polo.


Oh. And he earned a pair of master’s degrees and a certificate in teaching students on the autism spectrum along the way.


Lackey was inducted to the California Community Colleges Athletic Association Hall of Fame April 6 during this month’s annual CCCAA convention in Ontario.


“It’s a great honor,” said Lackey. “I’m very proud to be a former community college athlete and thankful for the recognition I have received from the CCCAA. My hope is that I continue to represent what’s great about community college athletics as I peruse my coaching career.”


The CCCAA Sports Hall of Fame recognizes those who have made the most of their experiences at a California community college while maximizing their own potential to better themselves along with those with whom they come in contact. Lackey is the first Grossmont College athlete to earn the honor and is enshrined with the likes of Jackie Robinson (Pasadena City College), NFL Hall of Famer Warren Moon (West Los Angeles College), and others in achieving the honor.


Born in San Diego and raised by his grandmother in Clairemont, Lackey took to water polo after learning how to swim, which his grandmother insisted he do because “she had a pool and she didn’t want me to drown.” When it came time for high school, Lackey opted to move in with an uncle living in San Carlos at attend Patrick Henry because it had a water polo team; Madison High, his neighborhood school in Clairemont, did not.


“Water polo really meant everything to me,” he said. “It’s the only thing I ever felt I was good at. I wasn’t a good student at all. And if it weren’t for Grossmont, I’d probably be working on my uncle’s sports fishing boat. Not that that’s a bad thing, but I kind of like what I’m doing now.”


A special education teacher at Patrick Henry High School in San Diego, Lackey was hired as a Grossmont College assistant coach in 2013, taking over the top spot after Coach Brian Harvey, who retired two years later. Lackey led the men’s water polo team to the 2021 PCAC Championship and most recently earned the 2021 Co-Coach of the Year Award.


Lackey’s ties to Grossmont run deep. His wife, Cristen, also attended Grossmont, and his sister-in-law, Jessica Owens, is the librarian co-chair. Lackey will be the featured alumni speaker at Grossmont College’s 60thanniversary celebration on May 3 in the Main Quad.


“When it comes down to it, I’m a perfect example of why community college is  a good thing and why it matters.”