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College Lacrosse

Johns Hopkins hires Arizona State’s Tim McCormack as women’s lacrosse coach, replacing retired Janine Tucker

Johns Hopkins announced Tuesday afternoon it has hired Arizona State coach Tim McCormack as its new women’s lacrosse coach.

McCormack, a former goalkeeper at Massachusetts, had spent the past three years working with the Sun Devils and was named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year in 2021 and 2022. This past spring, he guided the team to a single season-record 11 wins, its first conference tournament final appearance and its first end-of-season Top 25 ranking at No. 23 in the final Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association poll.

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As successful as he was at Arizona State, McCormack, 33, said the appeal of returning to the East Coast and coaching at a Big Ten school proved irresistible.

“It’s the center of lacrosse,” the Long Beach, New York, native said Tuesday morning. “Lacrosse here is what football is in Texas. I’m originally from Long Island, and it’s a very similar feel. It’s just got a rich tradition for the sport, and let’s not forget that it’s Johns Hopkins, one of the world-class institutions in this country. So to have the ability to coach at a university like Johns Hopkins is a very special thing. I’m privileged to be a part of that.”

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Tim McCormack, who guided Arizona State to a 26-17 record in three years and back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2021 and 2022, succeeds Janine Tucker, who retired after this past season after 29 years as Johns Hopkins’ all-time winningest coach.

Blue Jays athletic director Jennifer S. Baker said McCormack emerged as the leading candidate to succeed Janine Tucker, who retired at season’s end after a 29-year run at the helm, after interviewing with her and a search committee. Baker said she was especially impressed by McCormack’s search for atypical methods to develop his players and in-game strategy.

“As we talked to Tim, that was what really set him apart,” Baker said Monday night. “He’s the very best of what Janine has always brought to the table and created what has defined Hopkins lacrosse, but he is just a brilliant mind in terms of thinking about the game and his approach to not only the on-field strategy differently, but he approaches the way he teaches it differently.”

At Arizona State and Northwestern, where he was an assistant coach for coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, McCormack said he reached out to sports psychologists and scientists on the mental aspects of competition, track and field coaches for advice on speed and training modes, and box lacrosse and basketball coaches for strategy. He said he even consulted an Arizona State professor studying movement to explore how that can lead to the acquisition of skills.

“I was always curious and explored different ways to do things with my stick, with my body and take different risks,” he said. “And I carried that over to my coaching side. Sports have been played primarily in one way for a very long time, and I think it’d be insane to not look at it and ask, ‘Is there a better way? Can we prioritize things that can make us more efficient, to be more creative, to have more fun with it?’ So it’s been a constant search for that, and it will always be. That’s never going to stop.”

McCormack succeeds Tucker, who stepped down as the program’s all-time winningest coach at 313-180, which includes a 245-164 mark at the Division I level. She guided the school from Division III to Division I and to 23 seasons of double-digit victories, 10 Division I Tournament berths and four Division III Tournament appearances.

Tucker, who celebrated her 55th birthday last weekend, said she did not know McCormack personally until they met for the first time last Wednesday.

Tim McCormack, who guided Arizona State to a 26-17 record in three years and back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2021 and 2022, succeeds Janine Tucker, who retired after this past season after 29 years as Johns Hopkins’ all-time winningest coach.

“We connected immediately, and I was excited about how he spoke first and foremost about being a husband and a father, and he made it clear that he wants to treat his players and young women the way he wants somebody to treat his wife and his daughter,” she said Monday night. “From that moment on, I was all ears. We really had a wonderful opportunity to swap stories and share coaching philosophies and ask questions of each other.”

Baker and Tucker met with the players Tuesday afternoon before the official announcement was made. Baker said McCormack was scheduled to talk to the players via Zoom that night.

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Tucker said McCormack acknowledged the challenge of following up on her legacy, but she insisted that this was his opportunity to put his own imprint on the program.

“He said, ‘Coach, I understand that I have some big shoes to fill. I want to build off of all that you have done these last 29 years, but I want to put my spin on it, and I want to enhance and evolve and grow the foundation that has already been set.’ I quickly shot back, ‘You need to make this your own because that’s what got you to this place,’” she said.

Only the second coach in Johns Hopkins’ Division I history, McCormack has few ties to the school. But Baker said she was more concerned about hiring the best candidate for the job.

“I think the best way to frame it is, I was really trying to capture stability where I could for our women in terms of maintaining the core of who Hopkins lacrosse is and who they’ve always been and who I want them to continue to be in the future while still opening up the possibility for innovation and evolution moving forward,” she said. “There are talented people internally and externally that could potentially fit that role.”

At Massachusetts, McCormack made 45 consecutive starts in the cage, including a redshirt senior year in 2012 during which the Minutemen started 15-0, captured the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season and tournament titles and earned the No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament before getting upset, 13-11, by unseeded Colgate in the first round.

In six years from 2014 to 2019 as an assistant coach at Northwestern, McCormack shaped a defense that produced three All-Americans and eight All-Big Ten selections.

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Whether McCormack can help the Blue Jays extend their run of four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances remains to be seen. He acknowledged that both he and the players will need time to build their relationships.

“First and foremost, I’ve got to prioritize understanding who we are right now. That’s imperative,” he said. “I’m not by any stretch of the imagination going to come in and tell everybody, ‘This is who we are.’ That’s not how this is going to happen. It’s got to be organic, and it’s got to be together. So I will prioritize getting to know them from the early beginning in terms of who are we and what are we all about and then begin a journey together.”

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