By Andrew Cooke
Collin McConaghy, Director of Collegiate’s Summer Quest programs and a football and strength coach, grew up in Madison Heights, Virginia, a small town outside of Lynchburg. The youngest of three boys, he grew up playing many sports, focusing primarily on football. He played high school football in Amherst County and was a team captain his junior and senior years.
When asked about his own high school experience, McConaghy stated: “there is nothing like playing football under the lights with a group of kids you grew up with your whole childhood.” He described Madison Heights as a small country town that filled up the football stadium. He continued his football career at the University of Richmond until graduating in 2009. He was voted team captain his senior year. He left the University of Richmond with three conference championships, one national championship, and an undergraduate degree in business administration.
After college, McConaghy interned at University of Richmond as a strength and conditioning coach, for which he received his certification. After his internship, he became the Sports Director at the Tuckahoe Family YMCA and a varsity football coach at Godwin High School. Eventually, he was hired at Collegiate in 2012 as the Director of Summer Quest and as a football coach and strength coach. He has since also earned a Masters in Education from Liberty University.
When McConaghy first heard about the Collegiate job offering, he decided that it fit his needs perfectly. He described it as “the perfect blend of business during the day and football in the afternoon.” He enjoys Summer Quest for many reasons, but especially because it is like a “mini-business” and allows him to be around the students during the day. He is able to utilize his love for football as well as his degree in business.
His main reason for coming to the school was the family aspect of Collegiate. He talked about the importance of seeing young students mature together their whole lives and then seeing them play together on the football field. He also touched on the support from the Collegiate community. From the alumni, the faculty, and the students, everybody is supporting each other in not only football but other sports as well.
McConaghy came from a public school and discussed how this differs, from the support aspect, when he was a student. Another reason he chose Collegiate is the opportunities open for their staff and also their students. Collegiate gives their students impressive opportunities in preparing the students for college, but also in other clubs and activities. Collegiate also supports their faculty developing professionally. McConaghy elaborated on this, stating “Collegiate allows me to go to professional football meetings for me to develop as a coach.”
Outside of Collegiate, McConaghy spends most of his time with his family. He and his wife Trisha have a three-year-old boy named Porter and a three-month-old girl named Libby. In fact, he stated his two proudest achievements are “marrying his wife” and “having two healthy children.” He is constantly bringing Porter onto the football field, where he is a favorite among the players. He is also actively engaged at First Baptist Church.
He was introduced to mindfulness through Upper School guidance counselor, assistant varsity lacrosse coach, and mindfulness teacher Alex Peavey. McConaghy has integrated 30 minutes of mindfulness practice into his daily routine for over 500 days in a row. In fact, he said his favorite books are related to mindfulness, such as Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff… And It’s All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson. He says he enjoys watching all types of movies, but his two favorites are Shawshank Redemption and Remember the Titans.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is a quote McConaghy models his actions after. I have had the pleasure of being coached by him for three years on the varsity football team. When I joined the team, I could sense his “family first” attitude. From experience from his coaches in his football career, he believes that knowing the kids outside of football is the most important thing. He routinely asks me “How was your day?” or “How’s the college process going?” during the school day or in the weight room.
When asked about McConaghy’s impact on the Collegiate community, fellow coach and Associate Director of Summer Quest Jake McDonald responded, “McConaghy really values the importance of building relationships with those around him, and I think that is a big reason why he brings such value to our community. He brings a level of genuine enthusiasm to every day, and I’ve found it to be very contagious to those around him, myself included.” Mark Palyo, head varsity football coach and Upper School Dean of Students, said, “McConaghy has brought excitement and energy to the team, but he has also instilled a sense of pride in passion to the players for playing defensive football.” Varsity football running back Joseph White (‘18) elaborated on McConaghy’s energy by saying, “His positivity gives me the confidence to achieve my potential.”
McConaghy attained this approach from several of his past coaches. His dad coached him as a little league football player. McConaghy stated, “it is who I got my love of the game from.” Scott Abell, his high school coach, “preached the right values and did the right things.” In fact, McConaghy is still in contact with Coach Abell today. He was also influenced by his two college coaches at the University of Richmond, Mike London and David Clawson. He said he “wanted to give back to them like they gave back to me.” All of these coaches contribute to the values McConaghy imparts through his coaching.
When asked about what McConaghy has taught him, varsity quarterback T Brewer (‘18) said: “Throughout my years on the varsity football team, Coach McConaghy has taught me that with hard work and dedication, you can accomplish great things like winning a state championship.” Travis Reifsnider (‘18) responded by saying “[McConaghy] has taught me lessons that go beyond football, like how to persevere when things get tough.” Lastly, Nicholas Stepanian (‘18) said “McConaghy showed me what it meant to be a leader on and off the field. With my lack of game experience, filling in at middle linebacker was tough; however, McConaghy was able to prepare me for my senior season.”
From my experience, McConaghy’s relentless work ethic as a coach puts our defense in the best position to succeed in the game. McDonald says, “His willingness to prepare has taught me a ton; he’s breaking down film and going to coaching clinics in the off-season and during the season; he spends hours of his weekend studying the upcoming opponents and generating game plans.” Although I have learned countless lessons from him being my coach for three years, one of the most important lessons is imparted through the maxim “Your actions speak so loudly I can not hear what you say.” We are blessed to have McConaghy in the Collegiate community.