SHREVEPORT, La. - The Centenary athletic department and Director of Athletics and Recreation Dr. Bob Bunnell are pleased to announce the addition of men's lacrosse and new head coach, Casey McDonald.
Also announced on Thursday, August 31, Dr. Bunnell announced Tom Jackson will become the new Gents and Ladies tennis coach as well as the removal of the interim tag from Gents soccer head coach Kyle Symczak.
"After two seasons, I am excited to announce that we are re-introducing men's lacrosse here at Centenary," said Bunnell. "We have already hit the ground running with the hire of Casey McDonald as head coach. He has invaluable ties to not only Louisiana lacrosse, but the Shreveport lacrosse community as well. Coupled with his love and enthusiasm for the sport that was clearly evident, we are pleased to welcome Casey to the Centenary athletic staff.
"With the addition of men's lacrosse and the hiring of a head coach, McDonald will be tasked with recruiting lacrosse players the entire 2017-18 school year," added Bunnell. "Our goal is to build strong ties with the Shreveport community this year and begin competition for the 2019 NCAA Division III lacrosse season."
Jackson is not a stranger to Centenary or the Shreveport community as he most recently served as a volunteer assistant coach for men's basketball since the 2011-12 season.
Symczak was named interim Gents soccer head coach shortly before the 2016 season. A graduate assistant the two years prior, he led the Maroon and White to seven wins - the most in five seasons.
"We are also pleased to announce the hiring of Tom Jackson and the promotion of Kyle Symczak," said Dr. Bunnell. "Tom has been involved with Centenary and the Shreveport community for more than two decades, so we are looking forward to him revitalizing the Gents and Ladies tennis programs to the regional and national success seen in the 1980's and early 1990's."
About Symczak, Dr. Bunnell stated: "Kyle has been a dedicated assistant and then interim head coach for Gents soccer for the past three seasons. After the success of the 2016 season and in recruiting the eight-member 2017 freshman class, I made the decision to remove the interim tag and name him the sixth head coach in the history of Gents soccer."
A 2006 graduate of LSU, McDonald served as the head coach for the LSU women's lacrosse club from 2012-2015. He was in charge of every aspect of the program, including in-season and off-season conditioning, organization and execution of team meetings, fundraising, league/conference participation, and practices and games. He helped the team grow from 18 to 29 players, and led the Tigers to a playoff berth in each of the first three years of existence. The LSU women's lacrosse club won the 2015 Texas Women's Lacrosse League Division II Conference Championship and a berth in the national tournament.
"I am extremely honored to be the next head men's lacrosse coach at Centenary College," said McDonald. "I would like to thank Dr. Bunnell and the entire search committee for choosing me for such a wonderful opportunity and welcoming me to the Centenary family. After visiting campus, meeting with the coaches and administrators, speaking with some of the returning student-athletes, and consulting with many high schools as well as college coaches familiar with the school, I know that Centenary will be a perfect fit as we bring lacrosse back to campus. I am excited to hit the recruiting trail in search of future Gents who will excel in the classroom, on the field, and beyond as they enter the real world. Our program has a bright future with the support from the Shreveport community."
McDonald has been an assistant or head coach at the high school or college level for the past eight years. Most recently, he served as an assistant coach of the Lafayette Hurricanes Youth Lacrosse club. He assisted with three different age groups as coach as well as implemented summer lacrosse programs for youth, continuing to grow the game and provide players for both the Lafayette club teams and local high schools.
Prior to his three seasons at his alma mater, he served as the head lacrosse and assistant JV football coach at University High School in Orlando, Florida. In only his second season with the Cougars, he garnered Metropolitan Orlando Interscholastic Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors and was named a finalist for the Central Florida US Lacrosse Coach of the Year award.
In his tenure at University High School, the Cougars program increased from 19 varsity players to 28 varsity and 22 junior varsity athletes. McDonald led the program to its best three-year stretch in program history, including its first playoff appearance. He mentored the first University high school student-athlete to ever make an NCAA lacrosse roster.
In addition to working with the high school, McDonald served as an assistant coach at Rollins College in 2011 and 2012. He helped the Tar's men's lacrosse team with offense, defense, and goalies, while also assisting with recruiting and fundraising.
McDonald received his master's in athletic administration from Ohio University in December of 2012. He and his wife, Ashley, have three children, Collin, Carsyn, and Carolyn.
While Jackson has spent the past seven seasons assisting with Gents basketball, he is no stranger to tennis. A 1991 graduate of Belhaven, he played tennis all four seasons and helped the Blazers capture four Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tennis Championships. Belhaven also reached the top-10 in the NAIA all four seasons while Jackson was at Belhaven.
"This is a wonderful opportunity and I look forward to bringing back the tradition to Centenary tennis," said Jackson. "I would like to thank President Holoman and Dr. Bunnell for their confidence in me to lead our program. Finally, I would like to thank my family for their support."
Receiving his master's in education at Delta State in 1993, Jackson was a head coach and athletic director at various middle and high schools in the Caddo Parish area from 1996-2005.
After spending the 2014 and 2015 seasons as a graduate assistant and 2016 as interim head coach, Symczak has been named head coach after one of the most successful seasons in recent program history. Last season, the seven wins and only 32 goals allowed by the Gents were the most wins and least goals allowed since the 2011 season. Rylan Whan earned Second Team All-Conference selection as a goalie, while Nick Hammond grabbed Honorable Mention honors.
Named interim shortly before the 2016 season began, Symczak had a huge hand in the recruitment of 16 newcomers for the season.