In the hours after it was announced June 6 that Tom Foley was retiring as Watterson High School boys lacrosse coach, numerous former players, colleagues and opponents weighed in on Twitter regarding his impact.
Junior goalkeeper Dominic Elmo talked about how much time Foley dedicated to the program during a nine-year tenure that included six seasons as coach.
Several others used the word “great” to describe Foley as a person and coach.
Under Foley, the Eagles went 71-34 and never finished with a losing record. This season, they went 18-2 and reached the state tournament for the second time in program history, losing to Cincinnati Mariemont 6-5 in a Division II semifinal May 31 at Dayton Chaminade Julienne.
“I’m sure that I will go back to teaching the game at a youth level when I can find time,” said Foley, who hopes to spend more time with his three adult children during retirement. “I will miss the sidelines and the players that have worked so hard competing. They have kept me hip.”
Watterson reached a Division III state semifinal in 2006 and went 11-4 the next season before struggling to back-to-back 4-14 finishes in 2008 and ’09. The Eagles went 10-7 the next season but finished 6-8 in 2011.
Foley was an assistant from 2009-11 before taking over as coach in 2012.
“I waited to retire from coaching until I felt the program was strong and had the respect of the lacrosse community and its coaches,” he said. “I’ve been associated with the program for about nine years, and to see it grow from the numbers increasing and the athletes playing has been fun to be part of.
“The kids are so respectful and humble. We don’t have the best of facilities, but that never stopped us as coaches and players from achieving success.”
The Eagles must replace 17 seniors, including attacker A.J. Rigsby, who had 71 goals and 58 assists this season and was named Division II state Player of the Year.
Elmo and junior defender Frank Jobko, who made first-team all-Region 7 and second-team all-region, respectively, should be among the top returnees next season.
According to athletics director Doug Etgen, the search for Foley’s replacement will begin later this month.
“Coach Foley has built our program into one of the premier boys lacrosse programs in the state as evidenced in our regional championship this (season),” Etgen said. “We will miss coach Foley and his leadership dearly and wish him nothing but the best in his retirement.”