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Dave McLucas, From Lilly Raider to Doctor of Pharmacy: A true student-athlete

Dave McLucas in 2023

… remembers the work ethic learned in Cambria County

Nothing makes coaches prouder than the accomplishments of players in life. Whether these players become astronauts or coal miners who raise a beautiful family, that success takes different paths in life.

Dave McLucas is one of our former Lilly Raiders, a player who was one of the most talented I ever worked with — but who never grew much as a youngster, weighing about 125 pounds as a senior in high school.

He was a fabulous running back who also excelled in track and basketball. However, when he finished high school, he knew that sports were just something to enjoy, not pursue on the collegiate level.

Dave enrolled at West Virginia University before enrolling at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. After working for decades, he felt that he had not completed his academic journey and earned a doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Maryland.

He approached his post-high school education with the same tenacity that he approached sports as a young Lilly Raider or as a Penn Cambria Panther.

I asked Dave some questions about the role his upbringing had in accomplishing his goals.

Here is some of what he said.

The work ethic

Where does the work ethic originate?

I truly believe that being part of the Lilly Raiders - and Lilly youth athletics — made a big impact on life for a lot of us. We had good coaches, good role models, and a positive safe environment to grow up in. You don't realize this until years or decades later. We were taught respect and that hard work is needed to succeed in life. None of us came from money that I know of. Those who came out of the hills of Cambria County succeeded because we worked hard.

Dave McLucas, e-mail interview

Winning two championships

During the 1960s, the Lilly Raiders captured three consecutive championships in which they never lost a game. Dave was part of the 1967 and 1968 teams.

Those teams had tremendous talent, and the success is not lost on him today,

The winning of the two championships was fantastic. Little do you know at the time that some of these accomplishments would never be repeated in your life.

They made you feel special, though outside the Cambria county area no one would care. But as an individual, these were accomplishments that one could build on. It was all the hard work, time, the ups and downs, that get filed away so that later in life you can look back and say that you did something that others didn't. Small at the time, bigger later on.

Dave McLucas, e-mail interview

The Lilly Raiders jacket

All of the athletes who participated in Lilly Youth sports was given a jacket in eighth grade as long as they participated for at least two years.

Dave remembers the importance of that jacket.

When I got my Raider jacket- bright red with 4 footballs on it for being in the program 4 years, I could not have been more proud. I wore it every chance I got, especially out of town. "Hey, look at me, I'm a Raider football player".So nobody outside Lilly cared. that's ok. What a joy to wear it to St Brigid’s and get communion in that jacket. I only got to wear it about a year- I bulked up to 95 lbs and started school as a freshman at Penn Cambria.

Dave McLucas, e-mail interview

Being a “little guy”

In the beginning I remember being awestruck at how "big" the older boys were (120-160 lbs) and was terrified that I would have to tackle or engage with someone that big. Being 75 pounds soaking wet- it was the beginning of my philosophy to run like hell and try not to get hit. I used this mantra for the rest of my football career.

Dave McLucas, e-mail interview

The pharmacist

Dave told me that he never seriously considered playing sports in college because his academic goals were much more important than those. That was a vital part of his life in the early years and aided in the development of a work ethic, but he knew when to place priorities in order.

Dave started working at Dart Drug in 1978 and remained there for nine years, and then became a clinical pharmacist at George Washington University in 1987 where he remained for 33 years, retiring in 2020.

Congratulations to Dave for all of his accomplishments.

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