For the first time in more than a decade, the Rye boys’ lacrosse team will have a new face as the head of the program, as Steve Lennon was formally approved as the incoming varsity head coach at the Rye City Board of Education meeting on Dec. 13.
Lennon, who spent the last four years at the helm of the Eastchester program, will be taking over for co-head coaches Brian and Scott Dooley, who have been with the district since 2004.
“I found out in late October that the Dooleys were leaving and that the job was opening up,” Lennon said. “I felt that this was what was best for me, and my family, coming to a program that is perennially in the top 10.”
After spending five years coaching the JV team at Lakeland/Panas, Lennon quickly made an impact when he took over the Eastchester program in 2012. In four years there, his teams posted a 45-26 record, captured the school’s first-ever league title in 2013, and set new win records every year for the past three seasons. In 2016, Lennon earned Section I’s Class B Coach of the Year award, and his Eagles reached the sectional semifinals, where they fell to eventual champion Yorktown. Coincidentally, Rye also reached the Class B semis last year.
According to Lennon, his biggest success in Eastchester was not necessarily measured by wins and losses, but in how many of his players invested time in the offseason to improving their lacrosse skills.
“I’d say the culture definitely changed,” he said. “I think the kids started to buy in to playing year-round. I still encourage having multi-sport athletes, but I think playing games in the offseason, keeping the stick in their hands, that’s what made a big difference.”
In Rye, Lennon will step into a program that has a bit more history behind it.
Under the Dooleys, Rye won five straight section titles from 2005 to 2010. And several players on the 2017 team, including Will Hynson, Owen Hull and Peter Chabot, have already committed to Division I college programs.
“I called a meeting for Monday [Dec. 19] with the entire team, I want to get going right away,” Lennon said. “There’s a lot of preparation that goes into it, so sitting down with the team and the rest of the coaches in the program is important.”
As far as the team he left behind, Lennon admitted that accepting the new job was bittersweet.
“It’s absolutely one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made,” he said. “It was always my goal to turn Eastchester into that team that contended for a section title ever year; now I’m just trying to do the same thing at Rye.”