Cura Personalis: Charley Toomey, ’90

By April Arnold  |  Photos by Howard Korn and Brian Schneider

Photo by Brian Schneider

Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach Charley Toomey, ’90, led the Greyhounds to the NCAA Division I National Championship in May 2012. For Toomey, the journey to that monumental moment began as an undergraduate student-athlete at Loyola in 1986. Coach Toomey has been dedicated to inspiring Loyola’s student-athletes to winning seasons on the field, and the value of teamwork and service off the field, for more than a decade. Toomey began his career in the coaching field at Loyola in 1991. He was the head coach at the Naval Academy Prep School (1993) and Severn School (1996-1998), bookending a stop as an assistant coach at the Naval Academy from 1994-1995. He returned to Loyola in 1998 as an assistant coach, and he has been Loyola’s head coach since 2006. Now, he balances leading the men’s lacrosse program with raising his three daughters in Annapolis, Md., with his wife, Sara.

WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE LOYOLA?

I remember walking around campus with former coach Dave Cottle as a young high school player (at Boys Latin School in Baltimore), and all I knew then was that Loyola played lacrosse at a high level. I loved the idea of staying local to play collegiate lacrosse. As a student, I learned that Loyola offered so much more, and I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE MOMENT AS A LACROSSE PLAYER?

It would be easy to say playing in the national championship during my senior year, but I think the special days as a Loyola player are the moments after practice. I have so many great memories of being in the locker room with my teammates and the conversations we would have before and after practices and games. Playing lacrosse at Loyola was our fraternity.

WHAT WAS IT LIKE RETURNING TO LOYOLA AS A COACH?

I felt like I never left. I coached a short stint at the Naval Academy and high school locally, so I was always very close to Loyola, the team, and certainly the coaches. It was a special feeling to return as an assistant coach in 1998 as a part of Coach Dave Cottle’s staff and be embraced by the Loyola community once again.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS LOYOLA CHANGED SINCE YOUR DAYS AS A STUDENT?

Ridley Athletic Complex (completed in 2010) has raised the bar for recruiting student-athletes. In terms of everything else on campus, nothing has changed. Whether it’s Campus Ministry or the bonds that students form with professors, I really believe our staff and students embrace the values that Loyola is about.

HOW DO YOU HELP STUDENT-ATHLETES LEARN THE LOYOLA MENTALITY OF SERVICE?

We go to Loyola’s retreat center for a weekend during the fall to talk about faith and do team-building exercises; the students really get it. Last year, freshman defender Jason Crane organized a lacrosse clinic with youth from Newtown, Conn., after the tragic shooting. This wasn’t something organized by the coaches; it was driven inside the locker room by one of our freshmen who wanted to do something to help a community in need. That day spent in Connecticut has developed into a strong lasting relationship, and it is something I believe exemplifies what we stand for here at Loyola: being men for others.

AS A COACH, WHAT’S YOUR MOTIVATIONAL STYLE?

You have to teach players from the inside out. It’s really important that they work from the heart. I want our team to play with blue-collar mentality, to contest everything, to fight for 60 minutes, to understand that we need to go the extra mile to succeed.

LAST YEAR THE GREYHOUNDS CAPTURED THE FIRST NCAA DIVISION I NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP IN LOYOLA HISTORY. HOW DID IT FEEL?

It felt like we were finally able to pay the Loyola community back for all the support they’ve given our program. I was proud of our players and the University. I heard from a lot of alumni, both former players and fans, who were happy to get the chance to watch their team make it to the championship game.

BEING ON THE ROAD A LOT, HOW DO YOU FIND THAT WORK/LIFE BALANCE?

That’s probably the most challenging part about being a coach. It’s a tough balance. You have to have an understanding wife. My wife, Sara, is great at home and with our children. She understands that during June and July I’m just not around as much as I’d like to be. Lacrosse coaches are on the road for a good portion of June and July. In August we take our family vacations and are together as much as possible. During the school year, we’re able to have a balance. It’s important to me that my family gets to know the players on our team. We invite the Loyola players over to our house in the fall for a cookout; my wife sits in the stands with the players’ families. My wife and daughters really enjoy getting to know the players and the guys are always great with them.

DO YOU HAVE ANY HOBBIES?

My wife and I live down in Annapolis with our three daughters, Emma (14), Sophie (12), and Lyla (10). We made that area our home because I love to get out on the boat and fish on the bay. I grew up in that area, so getting home for me is like a vacation. I’m fortunate that my daughters have taken up lacrosse as well. This past spring I was able to help coach Sophie’s team—it’s a totally different game, but it’s fun to be on the field with your kids.

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEXT FEW YEARS?

We graduated a lot of talented players last year, so it’s safe to say that we are going through a bit of a youth movement in our locker room. That doesn’t change the fact that our goals will always be to win our conference and to go to our conference tournament. That’s asking a lot but the players know what it means to be level-headed and to take a one game at a time approach in the spring. Half of our locker room has played into late May, and I’m going to rely on my juniors and seniors to embrace that concept and help us with freshmen and sophomores.

HOW DO YOU THINK THINGS WILL CHANGE THIS YEAR WITH LOYOLA’S MOVE TO THE PATRIOT LEAGUE?

I’m excited about it; I think it’s going to raise the bar of the level of student-athlete that we are recruiting to Loyola. I also believe that we are going to help raise the bar athletically in the Patriot League. I have great respect for the Patriot League teams and look forward to creating new rivalries. I’m especially excited about the idea of a new local rivalry with the Naval Academy.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT BEING COACH?

I like that I get to recruit a new group of talented student-athletes to the University each year. As a graduate, I really hold the values of Loyola near and dear to my heart. People like Dr. Bagley (Paul Bagley, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy), Fr. Brown (Rev. Timothy Brown, S.J., special assistant for mission integration), and Fr. Linnane (Rev. Brian Linnane, S.J., Loyola president) make it special. My job is to have a talented group of young men that can win games on Saturdays for Loyola, but I also feel it’s darn important that they understand that they represent Loyola and everything it stands for at all times. I also appreciate how the alumni have supported my staff and the program during my time as head coach. I love hearing from our alumni about their experiences on the lacrosse field. Everyone who has worn the Greyhound uniform continues to bleed green and grey.

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