TRUMBULL >> Football has long been Hakim Fleming’s favorite sport. But the recent graduate of Notre Dame-Fairfield also excelled on the wrestling mat.
The wrestling program at Notre Dame began just two seasons ago. Fleming became the first state champion when he won the Class S title at heavyweight in 2015.
Fleming repeated that feat this past year as a senior. He also placed first at the prestigious New England championship and was second to Foran’s Luke Edmondson, the Register’s All-Area wrestling MVP, at the State Open.
Fleming, a Bridgeport resident, did not have any experience wrestling until he went out for the Lancers’ inaugural team as a junior.
A strong work ethic first learned in football helped Fleming find quick success in wrestling.
“I liked the grind,” Fleming said. “It’s a lot of work, but I enjoyed it. I worked hard to become a great wrestler and picked up the skill that I needed to win.”
In the fall, Fleming is headed to Endicott College, where he will play football. Before leaving, Fleming will compete one last time on the gridiron as a high schooler when he suits up for Team Nutmeg against Team Constitution in the Super 100 All-Star game on Saturday at Rentschler Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Fleming, a fullback, rushed 175 times for 1,1138 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior. He ran for more than 100 yards on five occasions.
“First and foremost, he’s an outstanding leader,” Notre Dame coach Chris Sadler said. “He always held the other kids accountable, and he held himself at a high standard.”
Fleming, 5-foot-11, 245 pounds, also caught 17 passes for 125 yards and one touchdown.
“He’s definitely a unique player because of his size and athletic ability,” Sadler said. “We’re hoping he does big things in the all-star game.”
Fleming was a named a Class S coaches all-state and an all-SWC selection as a senior.
“It’s been great,” Fleming said about his football career. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
As a defensive lineman, Fleming made 56 tackles, two sacks, recovered one fumble and caused another during his final year with the Lancers.
“Defensively, he made a lot of strides this past year,” Sadler said. “He found his position. With his power and athletic ability, at times he dominated his position.”
On Saturday, Fleming will play both at fullback and at nose guard.
“He’ll play a little bit back there (at fullback),” Team Nutmeg coach Joe DellaVecchia said. “He’ll play mostly on the defensive line, but we’ll have a couple of plays back there for him.”
Fleming starred for the Bridgeport Chargers of the American Youth Football League (AYF) growing up before embarking on a successful career at Notre Dame.
“I’ve been playing football my entire life,” Fleming said. “It’s been my life pretty much.”