After spending 27 years as a teacher, mentor, coach, and leader at McCallie School, varsity lacrosse coach Troy Kemp will be stepping down this summer to take on a new challenge in Atlanta as a senior administrator at Ron Clark Academy, one of the nation’s most renowned schools. McCallie assistant coach Eamon Thornton ’02 will take over as the head coach of McCallie’s nationally respected lacrosse program. Kemp will continue as executive director of the National Center for the Development of Boys, a role he has held since 2016.
“Troy’s passion for boys has changed the lives of so many young men during his time at McCallie,” Headmaster Lee Burns ’87 said. “He throws himself into inspiring others and lifting up everyone he comes in contact with. His years of devotion to McCallie and the boys he taught and coached have had a profound impact on our school and its culture. I am sure he will continue to have that same impact on others in his newest endeavor, and we wish him the best. As sad as I am for Troy to leave McCallie, his new role is a great opportunity for him, and I’m excited for him and his family in a new chapter in their lives.”
Kemp has been a fixture at McCallie since 1992 as a residential faculty member, math teacher, coach for football and lacrosse, and as dean of admission and associate headmaster for admission and enrollment. His passion for boys has impacted the lives of hundreds of young men, and his leadership has built the McCallie lacrosse program into one of the country’s top high school programs, with his Blue Tornado teams winning 10 state championships. He is a three-time Coach of the Year honoree by the Tennessee State Lacrosse Association.
“I love McCallie and the amazing people who are connected to this institution. The thought of leaving has been agonizing to even contemplate,” Kemp said. “I’ve spent my whole adult life here, and Diane and I have raised our children here. Besides our own children, I feel like I have countless sons in the McCallie boys I’ve been fortunate enough to teach, coach, mentor and just do life with. The transition may be difficult, but I think it’s time for the next chapter in my life. I find peace in knowing I’ll always be a part of the McCallie family, even if I’m not physically here.”
In addition to his work at McCallie, Kemp is also the founder of Chattanooga Lacrosse, a non-profit organization that is designed to promote and teach the game. He is currently the Executive Director for The National Center for the Development of Boys, which shares research and best practices with educators and parents around the country in teaching, mentoring and raising boys. Kemp will continue in that role.
“If you just look at the wins and losses alone, it’s evident that Troy is an outstanding coach,” Assistant Headmaster Kenny Sholl said. “But his impact goes far beyond winning state championships and what happens on the playing field. Troy inspires his players and students to want more and to achieve more in every aspect of their lives. Eamon Thornton has learned from the best, and it’s clear to me that he’s ready to take command and continue Troy’s legacy with McCallie lacrosse.”
Thornton has a long history with McCallie lacrosse and is well-positioned to take over the Blue Tornado lacrosse program as head coach. Thornton played lacrosse as a student at McCallie and in college at Hampden-Sydney College.
“Eamon is an excellent coach who will build upon the outstanding foundation, culture and success of our lacrosse program,“ Burns said. “He understands the philosophy of how we see sports as a platform to foster important life lessons, skills and character through teamwork and competition.”
After graduating from college in 2006, Thornton worked as a Lacrosse Development Officer in a small town just north of London, England, before beginning his teaching career. Thornton has also coached the Swiss national lacrosse team in the summers. He also teaches English at McCallie and serves as a dorm head in Hutcheson Dorm.
“Like everyone, I am sad for Troy to leave McCallie, and I greatly value the ways he has mentored and coached boys in lacrosse,” Thornton said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to build upon the foundation and legacy that is in place. For now, though, we are focused on having a strong finish to our season.”
Kemp said he is leaving the McCallie lacrosse program in good hands, and he thinks Thornton is ready to take over and continue to build the program.
“I’m excited for Eamon to serve as head coach,” Kemp said. “I’ve known him for a long time, back to when he played for me, and as an assistant coach for the last eight years. He knows McCallie and the impact lacrosse has had on the lives of countless players, their families and this institution. The culture and standards will remain healthy and high under his great leadership.”
McCallie is an all-boys boarding and day school founded in 1905 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with 938 students in grades 6-12 from 23 states and 11 countries.