Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/20/20
From Press Release
Since being established in 1993, the St. Joseph’s Prep Lacrosse Program has been a strong playoff contender.
Twice the Prep reached the PIAA championship (2011 and 2015) and in many years the Hawks had challenged powerful La Salle for the Catholic League title, winning it three times.
The program, however, has lacked stability in recent years (four new coaches in six years) and in most recent seasons has struggled to match up with La Salle.
Enter Dan Keating. A graduate of Duke University and a veteran college coach for the past eight seasons, Keating returns to the Prep where he served as head coach from 2006-08.
His task? To try and lift The Prep back to its status as a legitimate state contender. During his first tenure at The Prep, the Hawks had a 61-22 record with three All-State players and 24 First-Team All-Catholics.
The work as the new head coach began from day one in October, when Keating and his staff met with the players who have been involved in the program. “The message in that first meeting was to take one day at a time,” he says. “I told them that we weren’t going to worry about things out of our control. Each day, our goal is to get a little better. That has been our mindset every time we get together.”
Since then, Keating and his coaches, including his brother Mike, have worked with the players on strength/conditioning and stick work. Most importantly, he says, they are developing relationships, and building a team.
Keating also was head coach at Malvern Prep in 2010 and an assistant at Lehigh (2011), St. Joseph’s University (2012-18) and Stockton (2019) and briefly for Bryant (2019). All these experiences have shaped his style.
“Over and over, we have tried to reinforce the program’s core values: care, discipline, and great teamwork,” Keating said.
Keating sees himself, first and foremost, as an educator, which fits into the Prep’s vision for education that extends outside of the classroom walls.
“We educate on the field, when we teach skills, but we also impart life lessons on and off the field,” Keating said. “We have to get to know them as people, outside of athletics, to know their aspirations and goals.”
“I have found that students don’t care about the Xs and Os unless they know you care about them,” Keating continued. “No matter how much you know about the game, I think you have to be able to show a side of yourself where you can relate to them. Lacrosse is just part of who they are here, it does not define them.”
Another aspect of building a program in engaging the alumni. For Keating, the Prep’s distinguished history was appealing.
“One of the reasons I wanted to come back to the Prep was because of the men who I coached during my time here who are now successful in their professions, who are excellent husbands and husbands,” Keating said. “I enjoyed my three years here because of the young men who I coached and now I get to bring them back as alums.
“I want them to see themselves as an extension to the program. That goes for all of the other Prep lacrosse alumni. Over the years, I got to coach several in college or against them and I have always had a fondness for the Prep guys. I look forward to having them back in the fold.”
Keating plans to hold an Alumni Game in May before a doubleheader between the Prep and Emmaus.
For now, Keating concentrates on his team, which last year finished strong (14-10 overall) by winning a PIAA Class AAA opener and giving Garnet Valley a fight in the second round. “I want our guys to enjoy the journey together, especially this year,” he said.
He has learned much since his days as an Inter-Ac JV Coach. “My first year of coaching at the Haverford School was incredibly humbling when I found out how much I needed to learn,” Keating said. ‘Now, with 15 years of experience, I look to teach the game with substance. The players crave that, especially at a school like the Prep where they expect to be challenged, where they have a higher order of thinking. That’s why I like working here so much.”