(Photo Courtesy of Bucknell Athletics)
One week ago, Ryan Danehy was named the next head coach of the Mercer men’s lacrosse program.
Danehy arrives in Macon after a four-year stint as the offensive coordinator at Bucknell, where he oversaw an offense that averaged 13.53 goals per game as the 19th-best scoring offense in the nation and second-best in the Patriot League this past spring.
“Mercer presents its own really unique opportunities to, one, play DI lacrosse and do so in an atmosphere that has really good weather all the time, and then Mercer University is an incredible academic institution…and three, we [Bucknell] played them last year and when I was looking at Mercer I felt they were one of the strongest teams in the country up the middle of the field, so you look at that and say there is a good foundation here,” Danehy told Lacrosse Bucket.
“Mercer checked all the boxes and then some, so when making this decision it was incredible easy and so I couldn’t be more thankful to Jim Cole [Mercer Athletic Director] and Brian Garrity [Mercer Deputy AD] for this opportunity,”
A head coach for the first time in his career, Danehy brings with him 15 years of experience as an assistant in the college and pro ranks as he had stops at Dartmouth, his alma mater, Michigan, Penn, and the MLL’s New York Lizards, in addition to his time at Bucknell.
“I can’t overstate how much my experiences have shaped me as both a coach and a person,” Danehy said. “From being recruited by Ricky Sowell at Dartmouth and then playing and coaching under Bill Wilson and Andy Towers…From learning what resources are available and how to apply them with John Paul at Michigan…, and then when you look at my time at Penn and the success and changes they have had under Mike Murphy, and then with Bucknell being under Frank Fedorjaka who is know for doing and excelling at out of the box things.”
Danehy said that being part of so many unique experiences as an assistant coach many of the lessons he has learned along the way have and will stick with him throughout his career. “Every single piece of that will continue to have an impact on my coaching.”
At Mercer, Danehy takes over a program that is still relatively new compared to many others across the DI landscape, having started played in 2011, and is situated in a state that has become one of the largest and fastest-growing lacrosse hotbeds in the South.
This past season, the Bears’ roster featured 12 players from the state of Georgia and a combined 18 players from the surroundings states of Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Keeping much of that Georgia and Southern identity on the roster is something that Danehy states he wants to continue.
“If you are a team in a specific state your goal is to make sure that you know every single player in that state and that you are pulling the talent from that state. There is no question that my goal is to be a big part of the future for many of these players in Georgia and to make sure that Mercer is a destination for the best players in the state.” Danehy said.
Last season, Mercer went 5-10 (2-3 SoCon) and missed the conference tournament and was in the bottom half of college lacrosse in most statistical categories. However, they were highlighted by having one of the best faceoff units and goal-scorers in their respective conference.
As for what kind of style can be expected from Danehy’s Mercer teams, he says it will be one that puts players in the best position to maximize their greatest strengths and put the team in the best position to succeed. “I have a foundational system, but that foundational system is very flexible because you just don’t know in the end exactly what each player is going to bring until you get them on campus and start working,”
Danehy’s arrival is not the only factor making the 2023 season the start of a new era for Mercer lacrosse. The Bears will also see themselves in a new conference this coming season as they move to the Atlantic Sun (A-Sun), helping to make up a league of 10 different teams that includes multiple of Mercer’s former SoCon foes in Air Force, Bellarmine, and Jacksonville.
“I believe that the A-Sun presents a great opportunity for Mercer to make an impact in a 10-team league right away. There is an opportunity for us to win and ultimately our goal is to be in that top four in league. And everyone knows once you are in that conference tournament it is anybody’s game.”