How a Hong Kong lacrosse star and finance professional stays fit

Ex-Harvard University player credits five-days-a-week CrossFit training for giving him the focus to succeed on and off the lacrosse field

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 May, 2015, 6:09am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 May, 2015, 11:09am

What does it take to be at the top of your game - and your career? This month we meet three Hong Kong sports representatives who are flying high in the workplace and on the sports field.

Putting down his lacrosse stick after his last game at college, Jay Wich never thought he'd pick it up again. Despite being one of the leading scorers at Harvard University, he'd chosen a career in finance over sport. Besides, he was moving to Hong Kong and didn't think he would be able to play lacrosse here.

But within six months of arriving in 2007, the American college star had dusted off his lacrosse stick and discovered a new community. Wich, 34, started his own team in the local league and has represented Hong Kong at two World Championships.

"Playing lacrosse in Hong Kong has surprisingly turned out to be one of the highlights of living here," says Wich.

His team has benefited from the support of a private benefactor. At the World Championships in Denver last year, the team had a full sporting staff, including sports psychologists and five trainers, and they finished as the second best Asian team behind a Japanese team.

Being able to continue his lifelong passion for lacrosse was one of several opportunities Wich found in Hong Kong: apart from working in the finance industry, he has also launched a flourishing side business in custom clothing, called J.J. Threads.

"I'd been to the tailors to have some shirts made but I wanted something a bit funkier," he says.

Armed with fabrics after a trip to Sham Shui Po, he directed the styling on his shirts. "When I went back home to the US for a visit, my buddies loved my style. I saw the opportunity and J.J. Threads was born."

Playing lacrosse has turned out to be one of the highlights of living here
Jay Wich

Powering his success on and off the field is a busy schedule that includes CrossFit training five days a week. "I prefer to be busy - without structure I tend to get sidetracked."

Although he'll be 37 at the next World Championships, Wich believes his regime will help him make the cut.

"I always thought my final game at college would be the pinnacle of my lacrosse career, but can you believe it? I'm 34 and I'm still going."

Lacrosse is a complicated beast: there's a lot of skill, but there's also a lot of speed. It's like basketball in many ways - a lot of teamwork, picking roles and working with people. I simply love it.

Competing at an elite level requires commitment, discipline and hard work. As contrived as it may sound, the traits needed to achieve in sports are the same traits that help in your career. A person with a sporting background likely has a deep understanding of how to work well as part of a team, the commitment required and the sacrifices one may need to make to be successful.

I'm in a great place: playing on the world circuit while having a thriving career and business. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one of my college teammates still playing lacrosse competitively.

You need to be strong in lacrosse. You can't train for lacrosse all day - it's tough to find fields and it requires a lot of players. So I think CrossFit has helped me to be a better lacrosse player, and it's a good outlet for stress.

Given my age, diet is a lot more on the radar than it used to be. But I'd prefer to work out every day than not eat a burger.

If I had a choice between a beach holiday or an adventure holiday, I'd go for the adventure. I got Netflix recently so maybe that will make me slow down one of these days.