Sean McCaffrey and Andy Thompson successfully navigated their share of ups and downs during four seasons as St. Charles lacrosse coaching cohorts.
McCaffrey assisted Thompson with the St. Charles boys co-op during their first three springs together before filling the same role last season once Thompson opted to coach St. Charles North when the co-op split.
Now that the men have flip-flopped roles – Thompson ceded control of the North Stars in late fall – they have neither envisioned nor experienced any awkwardness.
“It’s kind of nice to have your mentor as your assistant,” McCaffrey said, “so that’s an easy transition.”
Thompson, a 1999 St. Charles High graduate, enters the upcoming season with a decidedly smaller profile than usual. A former player who coached St. Charles to four successive IHSLA Final Four appearances from 2007-10, he cited family concerns in a letter addressed to North players and their families.
“With my growing family and growing business, I do need to make sure that my family comes first and that I spend my time outside of practice and games being with and supporting them,” Thompson wrote.
Thompson is a co-founder of the Naperville-based New Wave Lacrosse club, as well as the organization’s director of club coaching and director of high school programs.
McCaffrey, a marketing data analyst at DeVry University, was a Geneva senior at the time he and player parent Tammy Marcozzi started the Geneva club program in November 2004. A few months later, Thompson coached against McCaffrey the player before helping McCaffrey train to land an eventual spot on the St. Leo (Fla.) team.
The latest arrangement of their association finds McCaffrey considering “the administrative side” of securing field times and finalizing parents’ meetings to be the biggest difference from the past.
Thompson will serve as the team’s offensive coordinator on a team that returns much of its core from 2012.
Additions to the lower-level coaching staff include Hunter Shodeen, McCaffrey’s former Geneva teammate who will guide North’s inaugural freshman team. Cam Caruso, a St. Charles East product who starred at NCAA Division III Babson (Mass.) College, rejoins the program as a JV assistant.
“That’s kind of how far our program is going now,” McCaffrey said. “We’re very pleased to see that alumni are attracted to come back and coach with us.”
Switching fields: Football and lacrosse occasionally dovetail for athletes, as the latter maintains just the right contact quotient for those looking to be chippy during the spring.
For Matt Lally, a Marmion senior from St. Charles, lacrosse is about to serve as a barometer.
After suffering separate ankle and leg injuries in his final two football seasons, Lally joined the Cadets lacrosse team to test his preparedness for physicality and a possible college football career.
“I just finally wanted to get that whole team mentality back,” Lally said. “I don’t really remember what it’s like, so I want to play another contact sport. Lacrosse has been good so far.”
Lally, a defender, progressively has learned his new craft alongside veteran Cadets longpoles Connor Boyne and Sam Tonner. Lally missed all but the final game of the 2012 football season after breaking his leg in August. Lally said he’s leaning toward the University of St. Thomas, an NCAA Division III school in Minnesota’s Twin Cities.
“Every time I hit somebody, it makes me feel like football, so it’s really going to help me with my college decision,” Lally said.
Home turf: Geneva’s March 16 “Battle of Burgess” preseason tournament will provide the Tri-Cities lacrosse community a good look at the new artificial turf surface at Burgess Field.
Ground-ball pickups and shots ought to play considerably different than during past games on Burgess’ shoddy natural grass, which was converted as part of a $1.1. million renovation completed before the 2012-13 school year.
“The turf is quite a godsend,” Geneva club president David Dubsky said. “It is really a whole different game.”