Arizona State launched its women’s lacrosse team three years ago to go with the addition of men’s hockey. After two seasons, Courtney Martinez Connor resigned from her head coaching duties from the Lady Devils in May.
McCormack now hopes to join the successful bunch of women’s sports head coaches in Tempe.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” he said. “When you see the success of teams like women’s golf and women’s basketball making the Sweet 16, among many others, it’s just exciting to be a part of. Honestly can’t wait to sit down with them and pick their brains and learn from them, truly see what was able to get them to where they’ve gotten. To join them is an honor.”
During his player career as a Minuteman, he earned an All-American bid and helped guide his team to an undefeated regular season in 2012. Also a two-time captain at UMass, McCormack saw himself in coaching early on.
However, the idea of coaching starts even before McCormack stepped foot on a college campus. While in high school, he coached very young club teams and the path to now being at the helm in Tempe is far from a shock.
“I’ve never really looked back from that,” said McCormack on his early start. “This is definitely something I’ve seen for myself. It was a goal of mine, an ambition of mine, I’m really fortunate to get the opportunity at a great place.”
After graduation from UMass, McCormack entered a somewhat foreign place for himself joining the Northwestern women’s lacrosse coaching staff in 2013. In his interview with storied head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, McCormack told the truth, he didn’t know all the rules in the women’s game.
Luckily for McCormack, there may have not been a better person to learn from than Amonte Hiller. From 2005-2012, she led the Wildcats to seven NCAA championships and falling one title short of an eight-peat when they lost to Maryland in the title game in 2010.
Working with the defensemen and goalkeepers, McCormack knew he just needed to keep it simple to get the ball rolling. He said he just needed to teach how to stop the ball, and from there, he fit right in.
“I remember my first fall ball out there, asking questions, staying close to those guys, ‘hey, what’s this,’ just little nuances to wrap my head around,” he said. “It’s just like anything else, the more you study it, the more you watch it, the more you’re around it the more you pick it up. That’s how it went for me.”
On paper, 12 wins in two seasons doesn’t seem a lot, but they are big leaps for a new program out the gate. Although, winning from tactics and talent isn’t the path McCormick sees.
“I want to try to establish a culture of creating better people,” he said. “I want these girls to leave here with lessons learned. Leaving everything they have on the field every single day. Working hard, being committed, making sacrifices, being together as a group, these are the kind of values I want the girls to leave here with. With those things, I believe you’ll see the success on the field.”
McCormack and company will start their season in February, but before that he’ll have plenty of work in front of him in what he calls ‘a process’ to have the girls buy in to his proposed culture.
“It’s a one day at a time process,” he said. “It’s about developing trust, it’s about developing relationships with the girls. If you do all those things right, the product is going to be successful and push it in the right direction you want it to go in.