JD Harkey, a highly respected figure in the world of lacrosse, has carved a remarkable path as a coach, driven by a deep-rooted passion for the sport. From his humble beginnings as a player to his current position at SPIRE, Harkey’s journey has been marked by many influential figures and transformative experiences. His unwavering dedication and commitment to excellence have earned him recognition and success throughout his coaching career. In this article, we delve into the remarkable story of JD Harkey, exploring the key moments, mentors, and pivotal decisions that have shaped his coaching philosophy and propelled him to the forefront of lacrosse coaching.
His coaching journey truly began during high school when he started coaching youth lacrosse clinics, showcasing his passion for the sport even while he was still a player. Harkey’s dedication and talent soon caught the attention of Joe Trigiani, who offered him his first official coaching job for the travel program at Blackwolf Lacrosse. Trigiani, the founder of Blackwolf Lacrosse, played a pivotal role in JD’s early coaching career. Harkey’s time with Blackwolf Lacrosse marked the beginning of JD’s coaching journey and solidified his passion for coaching lacrosse.
Harkey had a successful career as a midfielder for the UMBC Retrievers from 2007 to 2011. UMBC Head Coach Don Zimmerman holds a special place in JD’s coaching journey. Under Zimmerman’s mentorship, JD earned a bachelor’s degree in lacrosse and a master’s degree in life. Zimmerman’s impact extended beyond the field, as he organized a team trip to Japan in 2009. This experience left a profound imprint on JD’s personal development, fostering a strong commitment to building international relationships and growing the game of lacrosse to benefit all communities involved. Zimmerman’s coaching style and mentorship significantly influenced JD’s coaching philosophy and approach.
After completing his playing career and undergraduate studies at UMBC, Harkey faced a pivotal decision. Pat Tracy, a former UMBC player and assistant coach at High Point University, extended an opportunity for Harkey to join him and Coach Torpey in launching the High Point lacrosse program. However, Harkey chose a different path and decided to pursue a law degree at the University of South Carolina. This hiatus from the lacrosse scene, spanning from the summer of 2011 to the summer of 2014, allowed Harkey to focus on his studies and gain a newfound appreciation for the game and the camaraderie it fostered.
In the fall of 2014, Harkey took on the defensive coordinator role for the University of South Carolina lacrosse program while practicing law in Columbia. Collaborating with Ken Lester, a former two-sport athlete at USC, Harkey showcased his coaching prowess and further honed his coaching methodology.
By the fall of 2015, Harkey’s dedication and expertise led him to assume the position of head coach for the USC lacrosse team, a role he held until the summer of 2021. Under his guidance, the team achieved remarkable success, amassing an impressive 75-18 overall record. Harkey’s tenure as head coach at USC was marked by numerous accolades, showcasing his ability to cultivate a winning culture and develop players to their full potential.
Driven by an unwavering passion for coaching, Harkey sought to transition from the practice of law to a full-time coaching role. Harkey embarked on a journey that involved interviews with multiple college programs. However, an enticing opportunity presented itself when he was offered a coaching position at Gerstell Academy (MIAA B), where he served as head coach for one year before the opportunity at SPIRE emerged.
Harkey’s coaching journey has been marked by the influence of several prominent figures whose impact on his coaching techniques cannot be overlooked. While some of these individuals have already been mentioned in this article, there are a few notable figures who deserve special recognition for their contributions.
Bud Harkey, JD’s grandfather, had a notable career in football at Wichita State, where he played alongside the legendary Bill Parcells. Despite having the chance to pursue coaching after college, Bud’s responsibilities as a husband and father prevented him from seizing that opportunity. This realization serves as a constant reminder for JD of the valuable chances he has been given and the sacrifices made by others to make those opportunities possible. Bud exemplified resilience and determination by working two different night jobs while balancing football and education to support his young family.
Jay Harkey, JD’s father, made significant contributions to the growth of Loudoun Youth Lacrosse during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Under his guidance, the program expanded from 150 participants to an impressive 2000 kids. Additionally, Jay coached the women’s lacrosse team at Loudoun Valley High School, leading them to three Virginia state semifinals. His involvement extended beyond coaching, as he co-ran the Upper Corner Lacrosse camp alongside Tommy Worstell and Kevin Pehlke. Jay’s dedication to the sport and his impact on young athletes serve as a source of inspiration for JD, especially considering that his three younger sisters all played college lacrosse.
Bob Curcio, JD’s father’s coach at Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ, established a highly successful lacrosse program. Renowned for his exceptional interpersonal skills, Curcio has been a consistent role model throughout JD’s life. Curcio’s influence has been instrumental in teaching JD the significance of fostering and maintaining meaningful relationships, a trait that JD carries with him in his coaching career. With his wealth of experience and a track record of success, JD Harkey serves as the Director and Head Coach of Lacrosse at SPIRE. This new chapter in his coaching career promises to be another stepping stone in his coaching journey. He continues to shape young athletes into skilled lacrosse players while instilling values of teamwork, perseverance, and a love for the game.
For more information on SPIRE Academy lacrosse programs, visit www.SPIREAcademy.com.
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