After the parting of ways between Mercy and coach Doug Pryor, who led the Magic to the Banner’s No.1 ranking and the program’s first Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference title last fall, school president Mary Beth Lennon asked assistant coach Nick Gill to fill the vacancy.
As it turns out, Gill, the school’s athletic director, said that he would have been happy to take over unless he found “the right fit for the program in the meantime.”
Gill announced on Tuesday that he has found just such a person — former Bryn Mawr coach Tom Durkin — to keep the team competing at a high level.
Durkin guided the Mawrtians to a 10-4-1 record and a berth in the B Conference championship game last fall — a 1-0 loss to Maryvale.
Durkin said that he was not looking to leave a school that he holds in such high esteem as Bryn Mawr, although the challenge of taking over an elite A Conference program was too promising to ignore.
“I loved coaching at Bryn Mawr,” said Durkin, a 1998 Loyola Blakefield grad who played the sport at Le Moyne College in Central New York and for what is now known as Loyola University Maryland’s club team.
The Mercy job offer came from Gill a couple of weeks ago, and Durkin said that it didn’t take too long for him to make up his mind.
“Nick reached out to me and we got the ball rolling,” he said.
Durkin said that his mother, Mary Roman Gunther, graduated from Mercy in the 1970s and recently spoke to the students on career day, making him all the more excited about making his mark on a team that will likely be going through a transitional phase in the fall.
“Mercy graduated a lot of seniors (including The Baltimore Banner/VSN 2022 Girls Soccer Player of the Year Payton Schenning),” he said. “It will be like a refresh. But I still plan to challenge them with a competitive schedule — especially early in the year. Certainly, this will be one of those years that we’ll be a lot better as the year goes on. It will be a learning curve for me and my players.”
Just concluding his eighth year as a club coach (for Pipeline Soccer Club), he said that it will be a “unique experience” coaching both high school and club teams this fall.
Durkin, who noted that the number of girls trying out for the team nearly doubled during his five-year tenure at Bryn Mawr, said that he will not employ a one-size-fits-all system for the Magic.
“I won’t be trying to fit a square peg into a round hole,” he said, explaining that he plans to adapt formations to his players’ strengths rather than the other way around. “We will play downhill and be aggressive. I want us to have a fun-to-watch brand of soccer.”
Durkin also observed that academics are “super important” to him.
“Both of my parents are teachers,” he said, confirming that his father, also named Tom Durkin, just recently retired from being the principal at John Carroll School in Bel Air.
Gill said that the younger Durkin is the right fit for the Magic.
“He has deep roots with Mercy and is one of the best soccer coaches in the state of Maryland,” Gill said. “I am very excited about the future of our soccer program.”