SPIRE Academy is dedicated to fueling the passion of today’s young athletes into tomorrow’s elite champions. It proudly continues that mission with the addition of JD Harkey: named Director of Lacrosse and Head Coach for the 2023-2024 academic school year.
With a wealth of experience in the international, collegiate and prep ranks, Coach Harkey joins SPIRE from Gerstell Academy in Maryland, where he served as head coach. Before his time at Gerstell, Harkey helmed the University of South Carolina men’s club team with a 75-18 overall record and a 6-1 MCLA Tournament record. He was also named 2018 SELC Coach of the Year during his tenure at South Carolina. On the international side, Harkey also serves as Volunteer Assistant Coach for the men’s Colombian National Team.
When asked about joining the elite program, Harkey shared, “I am humbled and honored to join the team at SPIRE. The opportunity for me to learn from some of the best coaches in the world from various sports is exciting.”
Originally from Virginia, the University of Maryland Baltimore County alum played midfield for the Retrievers, learning the game under the tutelage of Hall of Fame coach Don Zimmerman. Harkey received the Retrievers’ 2010 Unsung Hero award after battling through ACL repair and recovery. During his 2011 season, Harkey served as team co-captain with Jamie Kimbles.
Upon his 2014 graduation from the University of South Carolina School of Law, Coach Harkey first joined the Gamecocks staff as Defensive Coordinator in the spring of 2015. The following season, university president Colin Byrne promoted him to Head Coach. Harkey led South Carolina from unranked to an MCLA Final Four finish in 2018 and MCLA national champions in 2019. In 2018, his team finished with an impressive 14-0 undefeated regular season. The Gamecocks’ remarkable record of 18-2 came after losing in the SELC conference championship game and falling short in the MCLA national tournament semifinal. In 2019, Harkey’s men’s team finished 14-2 in the regular season and 21-2 overall. Harkey’s program was victorious this time, winning the SELC and MCLA Championships. During his tenure at UCA, he amassed a 75-18 record across four full seasons. Due to the pause of athletic events during 2020 and 2021, Harkey came away with an 11-2 record spanning both years.
The two-time America East Champion is also part of Team Eighteen, which SPIRE Brand Ambassador Kyle Harrison founded. The organization provides additional playing opportunities and tournament exposure to fifth- through twelfth-grade players across North America beyond their local club program opportunities.
“We are very fortunate to be working closely with Team Eighteen’s Kyle Harrison and Sean Cady to build our new SPIRE Lacrosse programs,” says SPIRE Co-Managing Director Ted Meekma. “When I asked them for help finding our Director/Head Coach, they immediately introduced me to JD Harkey. As I got to know JD, I quickly realized that he has the knowledge, the experience, the successful track record and the driving passion needed to lead our new Academy and all the other training/development programs and events planned for SPIRE Lacrosse.”
Harkey’s plans show his determination to bring a holistic approach to developing his players into well-rounded young men with a passion for lacrosse. “I am focused on developing competitive, creative, and empathetic leaders who will be successful in any endeavor they choose to pursue in their lives while also being good stewards of their communities. I’m confident college lacrosse programs will salivate the quality of student-athletes we matriculate from SPIRE.”
Harkey is quick to credit himself as lucky to have an accomplished lacrosse family supporting him personally and professionally. His wife, Emily née Coady, was a tenacious scorer at attack for UMBC, amassing almost 150 career points. Coady was also teammates with two of JD’s three sisters: fellow Retrievers Jessica Harkey McGee and Shannon Harkey. His other sister, Meghan Harkey Hedrick, was a Hall of Fame attacker for the Christopher Newport University Captains in Newport News, Virginia. Her standing career record at CNU includes points scored, points per game, assists and assists per game. The Harkey patriarch, Jay Harkey of Maplewood, New Jersey, won an NCAA Division II title as a freshman midfielder at UMBC before transferring to Maryland, where he earned his spot as the Terrapins’ captain his senior year. With a familial cheering squad behind him that gets what it takes to win, Coach Harkey has the best of lacrosse fanatics on his side of the stadium on game day and every day.
Harkey is thrilled to engage and get busy running the Greater Cleveland Area program. For this newly-minted program head and men’s head coach, it’s go time: “The facilities, resources, and instruction for student-athletes at SPIRE are unmatched! I can’t wait to get lacrosse players on campus. To visualize, then realize, the impact of our holistic approach to the development of these young men is an assignment I’m proud to tackle.”