For the second time in his coaching career, Todd Mealy is walking away from the sidelines. But this time he says it’s for good.
After two seasons at Lancaster Catholic, Mealy is stepping down as football coach after leading the Crusaders to two section crowns, a 20-3 combined record and a pair of postseason berths.
He informed his players of the decision in a meeting after school Monday. Mealy's longtime assistant, Chris Maiorino, has been promoted to the role of head coach to replace Mealy, according to a news release sent out by the school on Monday afternoon.
In an interview by phone Friday, Mealy told LNP|LancasterOnline that he was about “75%” sure of his decision near the end of last season. What made up the other 25%?
“Two things I think about when I get out of coaching,” Mealy told LNP|LancasterOnline. “The first is my children.”
Mealy, 40, and his wife, Melissa, have a 5-year-old son, Carter, and 2-year-old daughter, Adeline.
“The other thing was my coaching staff,” he said.
Mealy’s staff at Lancaster Catholic was largely the same staff he had in the eight seasons he had previously coached at Penn Manor. Mealy led the Comets to a 56-35 record from 2007 through 2014, building the Comets into a consistent winner with seven postseason appearances and often challenging powerhouse Wilson for the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section One mantle.
“Most of us have been together since 2007,” Mealy said. “It breaks me up that my decision impacts their lives, too. But I think all of them are good enough to be head coaches. So they’re ready to coach the game without me.”
There is also the vocal paralysis Mealy has been managing for the last five years. The condition essentially causes Mealy to feel like he has a sore throat every time he speaks. So much so that he's had to use a bullhorn at practices and coach from the pressbox during games the last two seasons. It’s also why he uses a microphone at Penn Manor High School, where he teaches American history.
But Mealy emphasized that vocal paralysis is not why he’s stepping away from coaching.
“I have decided to continue to live my life despite the problem,” he said. “I try to not let my throat impact that.”
Ultimately, his decision to leave coaching comes back to his career. He first stopped coaching at Penn Manor after the 2014 season so he and his wife could devote more time to their doctoral studies. Mealy later earned his doctorate degree in American studies from Penn State University in 2018.
“I got a Ph.D. for a reason,” Mealy said. “I want to put it to use.”
This fall, Mealy will be busy on a book tour promoting his seventh book while also teaching a night class at Dickinson College, where he has been an adjunct professor for the last year. That’s in addition to his full-time employment at Penn Manor. And he’s in the process of launching a nonprofit aimed at providing “racial equity coaching to educators in K-12, higher education and the corporate world.”
“My heart and passion are invested in my professional career,” Mealy said. “I do not have time to do what head coaches need to do when running a program. I find it too difficult to concentrate on family while balancing a career and coaching.”
One of the leading tacklers on Bishop McDevitt's 1995 state championship squad, Mealy later began coaching as an assistant at McCaskey, where he spent nine seasons on Scott Feldman’s staff before becoming a first-time head coach at Penn Manor. In all, he’s spent 22 seasons coaching football.
Asked what he’ll miss about coaching, Mealy said, “Friday nights are special. There are few things in life that can measure up to Friday night football. That’s one. My coaching staff and I took a team to Ireland when I was at Penn Manor. And a few years before that LeSean McCoy spent a couple days with our coaching staff.”
Mealy then recalled a moment from last season following Lancaster Catholic’s Week Four win over Ephrata when the Crusaders' coaches and their wives and children gathered inside the locker room.
“I took a picture of them. That was special,” he said. “I’m not saying other sports don’t do this, but the bond of being part of a program of family and trying to make each other better people and better players is special.”
Maiorino: Maiorino served as the offensive/defensive line coach at LCHS for the past four years, joining the Crusader family with Mealy back in 2016. Lancaster Catholic ranked second in the Section rushing with 3,140 yards this year. Overall, Maiorino has coached high school football for 14 years, twelve of those with Mealy. Maiorino graduated from Millersville University in 2004 with a degree in elementary education. He was a four-year member of the Marauder football program, serving as a team captain during his senior year. Maiorino currently is an Instructional Coach at Edward Hand Middle School in the School District of Lancaster, a role he has held for eight years.