TAMPA, MAY 31, 2022 – University of South Florida Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly today announced his selection of eight-time conference coach of the year honoree Mindy McCord as the first head coach of the USF women’s lacrosse program.
A highly-accomplished program leader with a 240-118 (.670) career record in 21 seasons as a lacrosse head coach, ranking among the top 20 active coaches in the nation, McCord leaves a Jacksonville University program she built from the ground up and led to national prominence, posting a 170-62 (.733) record over the first 13 years of the program’s existence while also helping to design and fundraise for a lacrosse facility that ranks among the nation’s best.
As a women’s lacrosse and field hockey head coach, McCord has accumulated 326 total wins in two sports at all levels and has established herself as an active advocate of lacrosse nationally while previously launching collegiate lacrosse programs at Virginia Tech and Jacksonville. Her teams have earned conference championships in 13 seasons and twice earned runner-up finishes in lacrosse during her career and she has recruited and developed 13 All-Americans and 26 all-region selections. McCord’s teams have earned a combined 21 conference regular season and tournament titles (eight each in the ASUN), 11 straight completed seasons with a conference championship (since 2011), and eight NCAA Lacrosse Tournament appearances reaching the Sweet 16 twice.
“We are absolutely thrilled to name a leader of Mindy McCord’s proven capabilities and passion for the sport as the first head coach in USF women’s lacrosse history,” Kelly said. “Not only does she have tremendous experience building a program from the ground up and leading it to multiple conference titles and national prominence, but also has done it in the state of Florida.”
McCord is coming off a 2022 season in which she led the Dolphins to their fourth straight ASUN regular-season title (eighth overall), the program’s eighth ASUN Tournament title and led the nation in scoring for seventh time averaging 17.21 goals per game. Under her direction, the Dolphins have compiled 18 NCAA statistical championships and one individual statistical title (Rachel Hannon, Draw Control – 2012), and have set the standard for offensive success, leading the nation in scoring on seven occasions and setting the NCAA record for scoring offense twice (2012 and 2018).
“Student-athletes and fans gravitate to her up-tempo, high-scoring style of play that has seen many of her teams rank among the highest-scoring in the nation,” Kelly said. “She combines with that the vision and drive to build a highly-successful program, a passionate investment in the welfare of student-athletes, and a strong desire and skill set to connect with her community that we feel is the perfect combination to launch our program.”
McCord’s student-athletes also excel off the field. Her women’s lacrosse program was the most academically successful program at JU in 2021 and 2022, posting team grade-point averages of 3.76 and 3.70, respectively. Women’s lacrosse student-athletes earned 2022 Jacksonville University graduation awards for the No. 1 student in nursing, the No. 1 student in the Davis College of Business, and the No. 1 graduate student. In 2014, the program finished with the third-highest team GPA in NCAA Division I lacrosse and has been awarded both JU’s community service and school spirit awards multiple times while developing a team culture known for its infectious spirit and commitment to service.
“I want to thank Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly and Deputy Athletics Director Kris Pierce for inviting me to interview and offering me the opportunity to be the first USF Division I lacrosse coach ever,” McCord said. “I am honored to serve #TeamUSF. It’s a very special day for me and my family. For 20 years, I have been coaching and helping grow the sport of lacrosse in the state of Florida. It’s been a fun, faith-filled, family journey that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Now, with the positive culture infused by Mr. Kelly and his staff at USF, we get to go all out and reach for the highest of heights with Tampa’s first D1 lacrosse team!
“I am incredibly humbled to take the reins at USF. Trust me, it had to be the most perfect of opportunities to cause me to leave such a strong labor of love that JU was in my life. I will forever treasure my relationships at JU and will always remember the incredible success we built from 2010 through last season. I am grateful to so many friends and supporters at JU who supported our program’s journey there.”
McCord continued the JU program’s success in 2022 as the Dolphins posted a 14-5 record (5-0, ASUN), won both conference regular season and tournament titles, and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the second straight year with a 20-8 defeat of Stanford. The Dolphins led the nation in shots with 704 and finished first scoring offense, third in points per game, and second in scoring margin. The Dolphins garnered two USA Lacrosse Magazine All-American Honorable Mentions (Molly Brock and Sarah Elms), two IWLCA All-Region selections (Brock and Elms), the ASUN Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year (Paige Pagano), the ASUN Midfielder of the Year (Molly Brock), six ASUN All-Conference First Team honorees, ASUN tournament MVP (Pagano), three ASUN All-Freshman team selections and five ASUN All-Academic Team selections.
During her career, McCord has guided 13 ASUN Player of the Year selections (5 players of the year, six defensive players of the year, four freshmen of the year, and one midfielder of the year), 81 ASUN All-Conference picks (41 first team), one ASUN Scholar-Athlete of the Year (Ali Hoffman, 2013 & 2014), 31 ASUN All-Academic Team selections and 35 IWLCA Academic Honor Roll selections. Her teams have earned eight IWLCA Academic Honor Squad recognitions, including Merit Squad in 2013.
“If the positive attitude at USF isn’t enough, Tampa Bay is full of winning attitudes with world champions seemingly around every corner,” McCord said of her move to the Bay area. “This is an opportunity that will allow our program to go all the way. Nowhere else is there this much support for student-athletes and their quality of life! The university is growing rapidly too. There’s a reason for all this growth. There’s every reason for top prospects to come to Tampa Bay and join this program. Everything is in place for USF to become one of the greatest programs in the country. The plan we have for a state-of-the-art stadium and facility is unparalleled. The commitment to success is the same.”
A 1993 graduate of Lynchburg College, earning a psychology degree and cum laude honors, McCord earned a master’s in counselor education from Virginia Tech in 1995. In 2015, she was inducted into the Lynchburg College Hall of Fame where she was a team captain and four-year lacrosse starter, earning rookie of the year, all-conference, regional All-American, and North/South Senior All-Star Game honors and went on to play in Australia while studying abroad.
McCord’s coaching career began while studying for her master’s degree at Virginia Tech, where she coached the women’s lacrosse club team for two years, helping them to earn Division I status in the ACC.
Her NCAA coaching career began as a 23-year-old head coach at prestigious Oberlin College in Ohio. As one of the NCAA’s youngest head coaches, she won consecutive North Coast Athletic Conference lacrosse titles in 1997 and 1998, including an undefeated conference record (11-0) in 1997 that led to NCAC Coach of the Year honors.
She moved to McDaniel College, formerly Western Maryland, as head field hockey and lacrosse coach in her hometown of Westminster, Md. McCord won the school’s first and only conference title in field hockey, where she remains second all-time with 61 victories and has the school’s best winning percentage (.656). In the 2002 season, McCord was named Centennial Conference Coach of the year in field hockey. She also rebuilt the lacrosse program at McDaniel, helping the Green Terror to a 10-6 record in 2002 and establishing recruiting in-roads that have led to McDaniel becoming a consistent top-25 program.
McCord moved to Florida in 2004 and took over a fledgling program at Nease High School (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) in 2006. The program had won only three games in its first three seasons, but, in her first season, Nease won four games and earned a top-20 ranking in the State of Florida. Nease went on to win consecutive district titles, and back-to-back No. 8 rankings in Florida in 2007 and 2008 as well as a No. 16 ranking in the southern United States in 2008. For her efforts, she was named by her peers as US Lacrosse-Orlando’s Coach of the Year.
McCord co-founded with her husband, Paul, a national travel lacrosse club called Lax Maniax Elite, which has helped more than 275 young women from Florida go on to play lacrosse in college and has boasted 22 high school all-Americans. The program won the 2007 and 2008 Southeastern Lacrosse championships and is recognized as the leading national club in the south.
For the past four years, McCord has served as a Division I representative to the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) and has served the last four years on the Division I Ranking Committee.
Born in Westminster, Md., McCord attended Westminster High School where she played field hockey, lacrosse, and ran track, earning honors in all three sports. In her senior year, she founded and implemented the first lacrosse club in Carroll County, Md., for middle and high school girls. Her husband, Paul, coached at JU for 10 seasons (2010-19) and works for Legacy Global Sports. Their daughter, Taylor, played lacrosse at Jacksonville University and earned a bachelor’s degree in 2015, an MBA in 2016, and currently works for Black Knight Financial. The couple also has a young son, LJ, born in 2015.
About USF Athletics
USF Athletics currently sponsors 19 varsity men’s and women’s teams that compete in 11 different sports, 18 at the NCAA Division I level in the American Athletic Conference, which will expand to 21 teams with the recently announced additions of women’s lacrosse (2023-24) and women’s beach volleyball (2024-25). The Bulls’ athletic program began in 1965 and completed its 55th season in 2020-21. Nearly 450 student-athletes train and compete in the athletic district located on the east end of the campus in Tampa, Fla. The Bulls have claimed 26 American Athletic Conference team titles since joining the conference in 2013, including seven trophies in the 2021 calendar year, and own 136 conference titles in department history. The Bulls have posted a combined annual grade-point average over 3.0 for seven straight years and have posted a program-record 14 straight semesters with a combined GPA over 3.0 as of the fall of 2021. USF has had over 500 student-athletes earn their degree since 2016-17.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Longtime Jacksonville University women’s lacrosse head coach Mindy McCord is moving on from JU to try her hand at a new opportunity in the lacrosse world.
McCord, who was instrumental in starting lacrosse at Jacksonville University and growing the women’s program from startup to perennial power, has accepted an offer to build a new program as head coach at the University of South Florida.
“There are very few coaches who have made an impact on Jacksonville University the way Mindy McCord has. Our lacrosse programs are nationally prominent because of her. She took the dream of an institution wanting to be a destination for lacrosse and made it a reality,” said Senior Vice President/Athletic Director Alex Ricker-Gilbert. “Mindy has put our young women first each day for nearly fifteen years. She epitomizes what we look for in a student-centered head coach.”
“I am truly blessed to have seen and contributed to the rise of men’s and women’s lacrosse at JU. Fourteen years ago, we built a program from scratch that became one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life,” said McCord. “Relationships were everything to making it such a rewarding experience. We developed lifelong bonds with alumni and current student-athletes who helped to build the legacy and history of this incredible program.
“I have unbridled enthusiasm for what we have done together and for all the possibilities that are yet to come.”
After cutting her teeth as a head coach at Oberlin College in Ohio and then McDaniel College in Maryland, she moved to the First Coast in 2004 and immediately began to help grow the game in the region. She worked with youth leagues, officials groups and high school programs, most notably turning Nease High School in first a state, and then a national power.
From there she waded into the water at JU, helping launch the lacrosse programs, which began play in 2010. By year two, the women’s team captured the program’s first conference championship, claiming the regular season NLC championship, which started a stretch of 11 straight seasons (with 2020 excluded) in which the team won either a regular season conference championship, conference tournament title, or both.
With the move to the ASUN in 2013, she earned the first of her six Coach of the Year honors in that league (after one NLC COY honor in 2010), one that JU would dominate over the course of the decade. They went 4-0 in that debut season in the conference and advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time. Under McCord’s guidance, the Dolphins advanced to seven out of the next eight NCAA tournaments.
In 2019, the program won its first ever NCAA Tournament game, prevailing over Mercer at home in a play-in contest. The next major breakthrough in the advancement of the program came in 2021. The team earned the most single-season wins with 17 and went a perfect 6-0 in the ASUN, before defeating Vanderbilt in the first round of the NCAAs to move to the Sweet 16 for the first time. That feat was replicated in 2022, with a first-round win over Stanford.
In her 13 seasons at JU, McCord won 170 games and led the Dolphins to eight NCAA Tournament appearances, while capturing 10 conference tournament championships and 11 regular season conference titles. She was a seven-time coach of the year and tutored 13 ASUN superlative winners: five Players of the Year, six Defensive Players of the Year, four Freshmen of the Year and a Midfielder of the Year. Two of her players were also recognized as IWLCA North/South All-Stars.
“The 17 players who earned degrees this year alone, with four of them being at the top of their respective colleges, represent the pinnacle of what it truly means to be a NCAA student-athlete,” said McCord. “Earning back-to-back Sweet-16 games made it all the more special. This program has helped to create positive experiences, lifelong friendships and an impact on the student-athlete’s personal lives that will go far beyond their college years.”
Always a proponent of emphasizing the student-athlete experience, McCord’s teams excelled in the classroom. A total of 81 student-athletes were named to the ASUN First Team, Second Team or Freshman Team under her tutelage, while 31 made the ASUN All-Academic Team and one was named Scholar-Athlete of the Year (twice). She had eight IWLCA Academic Honor Squad teams, with 35 making the Academic Honor Roll. The program boasted the department’s best team GPA four times in the last decade, and both the team and individual players were routinely recognized for their hard-work and dedication to JU Athletics at the year-end student-athlete awards banquet.
“I am thankful for the vision, trust, and support of my husband and children, our Presidents, ADs, Trustees, Coaches, Parents, Donors, Friends and Family over the years who walked along side me and the program to make it “The Best Place to Play Lacrosse”,” McCord said.
“As Mindy and her family embark on this next journey in their lives, I wish them nothing but the absolute best. I speak for the entire university community when I say that we will miss her dearly,” said Ricker-Gilbert. “The University of South Florida is getting an extraordinary person and coach. Coach McCord is leaving an evergreen legacy at JU and I am forever grateful to her.
JU will conduct a national search for the next coach to lead the women’s lacrosse program.
“As we look forward to the future, the program is in a phenomenal place,” said Ricker-Gilbert. “This will be a coveted job and we are going to get to work immediately to find the next great head women’s lacrosse coach at Jacksonville University.”