Jamie McNealey proves you can go home again.
McNealey returned to his alma mater, Severn, this season to take over the boys' lacrosse program. He previously coached the Admirals from 1999-2003. McNealey replaces Brian Wood, who stepped down after eight seasons at the helm.
So far, McNealey has guided the Admirals to three straight wins. He credits Wood for leaving a solid foundation in place.
"Fortunately, ... the fundamentals were in place, as Brian Wood is a tremendous coach," McNealey said. "Many similarities will exist from last season to this spring, but overall there will be more differences, as the personnel on our team, from veterans to newcomers, provide a totally different team makeup than a year ago. We will create the best opportunities from our roster and remain proactive in our approach each day in practice."
McNealey brings a high lacrosse acumen to the program. He graduated from Severn in 1987 and played at Johns Hopkins, where he won a NCAA national championship in 1989. As a senior at Hopkins, McNealey won the W. Taylor Cook Memorial Award for strength of character and positive influence. He served as an assistant coach for the Blue Jays from 1992-94. McNealey was the coach at St. Mary's in Annapolis, Md., from 1994-98, and he help lead the school to a 16-0 overall record and national No. 1 ranking.
After leaving Severn in 2003, McNealey took over as the defensive coordinator for the Chesapeake Bayhawks in 2010. He was inducted into the Severn School Hall of Fame in 2006 and is revered in the community.
"Severn is a special place, and after being away from high school lacrosse for 12 years, I am greatly appreciative of the fact that I have been given the opportunity to mentor and coach this team every day over the next four months," McNealey said. "To be able to spend time with our student-athletes and assist throughout the program with junior varsity and middle school is a gift that I am truly thankful for."
McNealey said the key to his team's fast start is its ability pick up ground balls. Winning those types of battles underscores his players' commitment to the program.
"Unselfish play has also been a hallmark to our team's emphasis from the beginning of tryouts or over the last two contests," McNealey said.
Senior midfielders Hunter Tyler and Tyler Perreten have led by example in games and on the practice field.
"Athletically, they fill many roles for us all over the field," McNealey said.
Senior attackman Doug Hill is another player who has progressed, and he makes the Admirals' defense work harder in practice and brings a high lacrosse IQ on the offensive side of the field.
Senior defenders Liam McFaden, Jacob Mandish and senior goalie Tyler Gilmore are fully integrated into what Severn is trying to accomplish, as the team faces the top offenses in the country in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference, according to McNealey.
"Our goals are simple: to give our best effort every day in all that we do, to become the best teammates that we can be and to have no regrets when the final whistle blows," McNealey said. "With 14-of-22 games away, not many will remember the score in 20 or 30 years, but they'll remember whether we gave it our all within the spirit of the game for all 48 minutes."
During the past decade, McNealey also has been the president/executive director for the National College Lacrosse League, which consists of 150 colleges and universities in 18 states.