Pingree athletic director Alan McCoy is not at the helm of the boys lacrosse team for the first time since 1980, but still remains committed to the program he successfully guided for the past 32 years. McCoy is helping out the JV's this season.
"The demands of the job as athletic director were getting bigger so I decided it was time to let somebody else take over," said McCoy. "I need to be there for the other spring teams, and that was very difficult when I was also coaching the lacrosse team."
Former Beverly High player Kevin Tersolo, who went on to play at Roanoke and was an assistant at Pingree for the past three years, has taken over with Fred Koval as his assistant. For the past five seasons McCoy and cross country coach Ned Jackson coached the lacrosse team together.
"According to Alan I was the co-head coach, but he was always the real head," said Jackson. "I stepped down with him to give the team a chance to have some completely new blood.
"Alan is one of the most patient educators of the sport I've ever encountered. Any coach can drill kids endlessly to improve their skills, but Alan is focused on teaching the game. He wanted our players to understand why we were doing what we were doing; that way they could be better leaders on the field."
Jackson said McCoy was just as focused on building character as building athletic skills.
"He earned a tremendous amount of respect from the players," said Jackson. "Alan had an uncanny ability to weed through what really needed improvement and to laser focus on that issue until it was fixed. I was often reminded during our pre-practice planning discussions that you can't fix every problem in one day.
"This was certainly a more patient and experienced appraisal and was a lesson that proved its merit to me almost immediately. During games he was always the portrait of calm and was undoubtedly one of the most well respected coaches in New England because of the way he handled himself."
Played in Baltimore
McCoy grew up in a lacrosse hot bed in Baltimore, Md. He played soccer and lacrosse in high school and for four years at McDaniel College. Lacrosse was just getting started in New England, but that was not the case in Maryland.
"We had Little League Lacrosse, and we started very young with a program similar to Little League Baseball," he said. "I was a midfielder in high school, but moved to attack in college. I think that's why I always empathized with the midfielders because I had first hand knowledge how much work they do running up and down the field."
McCoy was the JV soccer coach in 1978 when he first came to Pingree. In the spring of '79 he assisted Gary Benson, who was the Highlanders' first lacrosse coach, and in the fall took over as varsity girls soccer coach. He also coached the girls basketball team, and when Benson left got the head lacrosse job.
"I always tell people I came here on a two year plan, and now I'm in my 15th or 16th two-year plan," McCoy said. "For a school our size we do great and always manage to put a good product on the field. I'm proud of that because we play a tough schedule with a lot of very good teams."
New England championships
McCoy has coached seven high school All-Americans and four of five college All-Americans. Pingree was the best in New England in 1986, '87, '89, '93, '94, '97, '98, 2000, '05, '06, '08, and '09. McCoy was named Eastern New England Prep School Coach of the Year several times.
"We've had some good runs and a few repeats as well as winning the EIL (Eastern Independent League) title a bunch of years," said McCoy. "The thing I find most rewarding looking back is a team that overachieved or a player, who got passionate and worked hard to improve his game. Back in 1980 I had a kid named Bruce Hebbel, who could be difficult until he got passionate about lacrosse. He wound up being a great captain and went on to run the club lacrosse team at the University of South Carolina.
"A few years ago Matt Nelligan came out for lacrosse, and he hadn't played before but became both a high school and college All-American. We had a couple of great hockey players Josh Allen and Josh Prudden come out for lacrosse. They were great kids and tremendous athletes, who really picked up the game quickly. Allen went on to be an All-American at Bowdoin. Helping develop players like that has made my job a lot of fun."
McCoy said he will still go to the games to see how the team is doing, but he intends to stay out of Tersolo's way.
"It's Kevin's team now, and I don't want to interfere in any way," he said. "He's got a great lacrosse background and I have tremendous confidence in him."
THE MCCOY FILE
Pingree boys lacrosse coach since 1980
New England Prep School Champions: 12 times
High School All-Americans: 7