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Malvern Prep’s John McEvoy steps down as coach, reflects on career

MALVERN >> John McEvoy, who stepped down earlier this month as Malvern Prep lacrosse head coach, is leaving on a high note, his Friars having ranked in the top 25 nationally each of the past five years.
“The outlook for our program right now couldn’t be brighter,” said McEvoy. “If I didn’t feel comfortable with Matt Mackrides taking over as head coach, I wouldn’t be leaving. Matt played for me at Malvern, and one of the reasons I came back to coach at Malvern in 2013 was that he had graduated from college by then. He came with me as an assistant coach, and he’s been coaching with me for 10 years.
“I’m 54 years old, and I’ve got some good young coaches here who are committed — Matt, who is also the assistant AD at Malvern; Will Haus and Conor Resch. We have a big lacrosse program here, it takes a lot of effort to run it — it takes a young man’s effort.”
McEvoy will remain at Malvern Prep in his other job on campus — Associate Director of Admissions.
“I’m very passionate about Malvern Prep, and I like having some input in shaping with Malvern Prep is,” said McEvoy, a 1986 Malvern grad. “I feel like Malvern Prep is more than a job, it’s a community, it’s a family to me. Everyone needs a sense of belonging.”
In the early 1980s as a freshman at Malvern Prep, McEvoy was first introduced to lacrosse by his science teacher, Jef Hewlings, who then coached the Friars’ varsity squad and later coached at Penncrest, Emmaus and (currently) Ridley.
“Back then, I was an athlete who had played several sports, some baseball, and he convinced me to come out for lacrosse,” said McEvoy. “I’d never seen a lacrosse stick in my life, but Jef wasn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer.
“Also, I lived in Havertown then, and there were some lacrosse players who lived near me and this was before the Blue Route was completed, so for me playing lacrosse was an easy way to get a ride home from Malvern without having to hitchhike.”
As an attack player at Malvern, McEvoy was named All-State as well as a High School All-American and the Inter-Ac League’s Most Important Player in his senior year. In 2006 he was inducted into the Malvern Prep Hall of Fame.
“Jef’s coaching style really was good for me — he taught me to work hard,” said McEvoy.
Following his days at Malvern Prep, McEvoy decided to attend Villanova.
“I had a lot of family connections at Villanova — my mom worked there,” said McEvoy. “It was a comfortable place for a Malvern Prep student to be.” McEvoy continued his lacrosse career at Villanova, where he played for Randy Marks, who was the Wildcats’ head coach from 1982 to 2006. As a freshman, McEvoy was named the team’s Rookie of the Year.
“Under Randy, I learned to be an athlete and a real competitor,” said McEvoy. “There is always the effort that you think you can give, but Randy pushed me to realize the total effort that I’m capable of giving.”
Eventually, McEvoy became a two-time MVP for Villanova and at the time of his graduation in 1990 was the Wildcat’s leading scorer. In 2008, he was inducted into Villanova’s Varsity Club Hall of Fame.
“I learned a lot playing alongside the Villanova players who came from the hotbeds of lacrosse,” said McEvoy. “At that time was not considered a strong area for lacrosse. We started to play strong teams like Duke, and beat those teams, as the underdog, which was great. Being the underdog with something to prove matches my personality.”
Following graduation from Villanova, McEvoy joined the Philadelphia Wings, where he played for a decade, was a team captain and received an Unsung Player Award from the league.
“Playing box lacrosse and playing field lacrosse are two very different things,” said McEvoy. “While I was an attack player at Malvern Prep, and an attack/midfielder at Villanova, with the Wings I was more of a ballcarrier who could create things and run the field — I wasn’t as much of a scorer, which is why I think I got the Unsung award — each team had an Unsung award winner.
“With the Wings, I was more of a defensive-minded player, a player who could do a lot of things, and I think that carried into my coaching philosophy — I like guys who are versatile — I call them ‘Swiss Army knives.’”
After his Wings days, McEvoy returned to Malvern Prep as a middle school history teacher in 2000. Although McEvoy had received a busi-ness degree at Villanova, he returned to school to get a teaching degree, and did some student teaching with John Linehan at Lower Merion High School. It was there that he got bit with the coaching bug.
“I call John Linehan the ‘godfather of lacrosse,’” said McEvoy, with a laugh. “He taught history at Lower Merion, and he got me interested in coaching — through him, I realized that I’d get some motivation out of coaching.”
McEvoy started coaching lacrosse at Malvern Prep in 2001, took over as head coach in 2003 and won an Inter-Ac title in his inaugural year as head coach. In McEvoy’s first six years as head coach at Malvern, the Friars compiled a record of 116-24. Those years included five Inter-Ac championships and one state title, as well as two Eastern State Pennsylvania Scholastic Lacrosse Association (EPSLA) second place finishes. In 2005,
McEvoy was named Eastern Pennsylvania’s Coach of the Year. McEvoy stepped down as Malvern’s head coach in 2009 to spend more time with his young family (he is the father of five), then came back in 2013 to coach the Friars again.
“In 2009, my kids were young and my wife was travelling a lot, internationally, with the healthcare company she worked for,” said McEvoy. “We could re-arrange things at home, but I was doing teaching, coaching, admissions and taking care of things at home — serving four masters. When I came back to coaching in 2013, I moved into admissions at Malvern full-time and out of teaching.”
With McEvoy back at the helm in 2013, Malvern won Inter-Ac titles in 2013, 2014, 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022, and was ranked in the top 25 nationally in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.
McEvoy feels optimistic about the future of Malvern lacrosse.
“Matt has proven to be an energetic, innovative coach, and the program will only get stronger under his leadership,” said McEvoy. “I have learned over the years that consistent progress only happens with change and the willingness to change. I am thankful for Matt’s willingness to lead this program.”
Mackrides, who has been selected to four Major League Lacrosse All-Star games, said, “I have learned so much from Coach McEvoy during my time as both a player and assistant coach under his leadership.The culture and values that Coach McEvoy brought to Malvern Prep lacrosse are of the highest standard.”
Malvern Prep Director of Athletics Jim Stewart said, “John McEvoy has earned his spot among the greats that have played and coached lacrosse at Malvern Prep. His approach to hard work and fundamentals are the basics that so many scholar athletes bought into over the years and translated to many successes as proven by our success in the Inter-Ac, regionally and nationally.
“Coach Mackrides has a proven track record of success stemming from his playing days at Malvern Prep, collegiately at Penn State, and professionally for the Chesapeake Bayhawks and Atlanta Blaze. With our as-sistant coaching tandem of Will Haus and Paul O’Grady remaining in their roles, we look forward to an extremely smooth transition and much-continued success in the future.”

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