Annapolis, MD- Brendan Kelly will become head coach of the Chesapeake Bayhawks effective immediately, the Major League Lacrosse franchise announced on Wednesday. Kelly, the team president, will fill the void left by the resignation of John Tucker earlier in the day.
Chesapeake is mired in a four-game losing streak that has taken it from sole possession of first place in the MLL to a three-way tie for third place. The Bayhawks (4-5) most likely need to win two of their final three games to earn one of four berths in championship weekend, which is being hosted at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
“The team is at a crossroads right now and things needed to be shaken up,” Kelly said. “I felt it was important to maintain some stability within the organization and that is why I’m stepping up and taking on this challenge.”
Kelly has been a hands-on president since Hometown Lacrosse, LLC purchased the Bayhawks over the winter – attending all practices and often watching games from the sideline. Kelly has previous head coaching experience, having directed Team Smartlink to four straight United States Club Lacrosse Association championships.
“I’ve been very engaged with the players since training camp and am quite familiar with the personnel,” Kelly said. “A bunch of key players for the Bayhawks previously played for me with Smartlink so they know what to expect now that I am head coach.”
Kelly thanked Tucker for his efforts in leading the Bayhawks to this point and wished him the best of luck in future endeavors. Tucker, who previously served as head coach of the L.A. Riptide in the MLL, said the split was amicable.
“I want to thank Brendan Kelly and the Bayhawks for the opportunity to coach this season. Brendan is a tremendous person with a unique vision for the growth of the MLL,” Tucker said in a statement. “In our staff meeting this morning, it became clear that there was a philosophical divide on the direction of the team for the stretch run. I have decided to step away and allow a new voice to spark this team to a championship. There are a ton of competitors and classy young men in that locker room and I wish them all great success.”
Both Tucker and Kelly felt this was the appropriate time to make a change since Chesapeake and the rest of Major League Lacrosse are off this weekend. Kelly plans to conduct two practices prior to the Bayhawks’ next game at Long Island on Thursday, July 22.
“It was the right time for a change and Brendan Kelly is the right person to lead this team going forward,” Bayhawks general manager Spencer Ford said. “This team is still very much alive for the postseason and Brendan will bring the leadership that is needed to make a playoff push. I expect the players to see the heart and passion Brendan exhibits and react positively. I think the players will be excited by this change and play hard for their new head coach.”
Veteran attackman Andrew “Buggs” Combs was part of all four Smartlink squads that captured USCLA championships and had no doubt Kelly will provide the Bayhawks a spark as head coach. All-Pro midfielder Kyle Dixon, faceoff specialist Alex Smith and standout defenseman Michael Evans have also played for Kelly with Smartlink.
“First and foremost, we all enjoyed playing for John Tucker and certainly wish him the best in the future,” Combs said. “Hopefully, this change will bring some much-needed energy to the team. We’ve been in a bit of a rut and this Saturday we’re going to have a practice that will set the tone for the rest of the season. Brendan Kelly brings a lot of positive attributes to the table, not the least of which is that he’s a very competitive person who doesn’t like to lose. Brendan also does a great job of promoting the team philosophy and holding everyone accountable.”
Kelly said assistant coaches John Lamon and Jamie McNealey will remain in their roles as offensive and defensive coordinator, respectively.