Syracuse’s Matt Lyde-Cajuste Balances Basketball and Brilliance

How many Big East hoopsters count aerospace engineering among their hobbies?

Listen to the FizzCast with Matt Lyde-Cajuste:

Matt Lyde-Cajuste plays sparingly for the top 5 Orange. His contributions on the court include length as a 6-4 forward (wingspan is always a crucial element of the vaunted Jim Boeheim zone). Matt’s contributions off the court are likely to be much more. He’s a sophomore aerospace engineering major with plans on business school when that’s over with.

AP Photo

In our season-long partnership with Volvo and the road to the Big East Championship, we were looking for Syracuse basketball’s best representative of excellence off the court.

Matt’s resume is amazing. Hopefully this SU squad continues its winning ways and he’s part of the bench depth helping cut down the nets in Houston. But if his basketball moments are brief, his non-basketball moments will endure far longer. What will be his most important contribution to society? We finally found a question that could stump this Big East All-Academic Team member.

“I honestly couldn’t tell you right now, but I hope it’s a big one. I hope it’s a big one, that’s all I can say.”

The Fizz sat down with one of the academically driven players ever to suit for the Orange. At Iona Prep, he was Vice President of the National Honors Society, Treasurer for the African-American Society and a peer counselor. Today, he’s on the athletic director’s honor roll.

“My mother always told me there’s nothing you can’t handle as long as you put everything into it. I’ve noticed over the years, that’s the absolute truth. If you wanna do it and put your all into it, you can get it done. No matter how much is on your plate.”

Matt’s mother has always been a huge influence on his career aspirations. In fact, she’s the main reason he’s been drawn to aerospace engineering.

“It started as a hobby, it stretched to a goal. It’s turned into a passion of mine. I used to go to my mom’s job, she works for a few airlines. A lot of the executives would have these model planes. One of them gave one to me when I was real little and it just sparked my interest in planes. I started building model planes and trying to figure out how it works. It’s a however-thousand-pound object flying in the air, which is just fascinating to me.”

Yep, flying hunks of metal are intriguing to us as well. The rest of us just choose to sit in them in order to get to Des Moines quicker rather than figure out how they get up there in the first place. Amazing to think that Matt’s end goal is not even in aerospace.

“Honestly, it might sound a little wacky, but I’m going to business school (after this). Aerospace to me has been a hobby and something in my life that I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t accomplish.”

Right, a hobby. Most of us choose collecting stamps or blogging about Syracuse basketball. Matt has chosen the physics behind flight. So how does a course load in aerospace engineering look?

“It’s no joke. Just finished first semester taking Calc 3, Statics, Linear Algebra, Physics too.”

Yikes. When is there time to grab Sbarro from Kimmel Food Court and play Halo 3 all night? Let’s face it, the rest of the squad isn’t exactly grinding out Linear Algebra. Does he ever feel jealous toward his teammate’s less demanding majors?

“Honestly, yes I do. But at the same time, basketball is my passion. Basketball is obviously moreso their passion. Everyone has different goals in life. Can’t blame anybody but myself. “

While most student-athletes become attached to their recruiter, it’s rarely the one in their academic department. What drew him to Syracuse?

“I became very close to the engineering recruiter. We hit it off, we emailed each other and the support system really contributed in bringing me here.”

Somebody get this engineering recruiter on the tail of 5-star football stud Ishaq Williams. Sounds like he knows how to close. So which is of higher priority in Matt’s life: success on the court or off it?

“Definitely off the court. On the court is extremely important, but I’ve always been an academic. My mother’s always been an academic. Off the court has always been my prime target.”

Sounds like the very definition of the “Off the Court Excellence Award.”

Posted: D.A.

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