The idea was that John didn’t have to rummage through his dresser to support his sons’ schools from the sideline. Instead, he could wear one hat to any games or meets where his sons were coaching.
“He’s worn it at least once,” Alex said, noting that it’s already out of date because he coaches at Atholton now, not Mount Hebron. “We’ll knock that off the list this year. We’ll buy him another hat. That’ll be funny.”
The three brothers born and raised in Howard County coach three different sports and teach three different subjects at different county schools.
Wes, 34, teaches world history at River Hill, his alma mater, and has been the varsity baseball coach there since 2009. Kevin, 30, is a biology teacher and the varsity cross-country and indoor and outdoor track coach at Centennial. Alex, 27, is a health and physical education teacher at Murray Hill Middle School and the varsity boys lacrosse coach for his alma mater, Atholton High.
Kevin describes the family as “old-school Howard County.” His parents, John and Mary McCoy, met when they were both lifeguards for the Columbia Association. Mary is a longtime elementary school physical education teacher; John still works for the association.
“It is interesting that we did three very different things,” Wes said. “I don’t really have a reason for that; we just found something that we enjoyed and played it and continued to coach it afterwards.”
The beginning of the McCoys’ athletics journey dates back to when the three boys grew up swimming at Faulkner Ridge Pool in Columbia during the summer and playing various sports for Western Howard County and Howard County Youth Program. Wes paved the way and set high athletic expectations for his younger brothers.
A three-sport star at River Hill, Wes was a four-year varsity cross-country runner for legendary coach Earl Lauer, winning a team state championship and a couple of county titles. He was a natural athlete from the beginning, Lauer recalls.
“He had the physical tools to do a number of things, much more so than just running,” Lauer said. “To have somebody that walks in as a ninth grader that’s pretty talented, you’re always looking for kids like that.”
Wes also lettered twice in baseball and three years in basketball, winning a county title in each sport, before graduating in 2003 and playing basketball for a year at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. He says his desire to spend his life around schools and athletics, however, first came while attending the then-new Clarksville school.
“The thing that I guess I remember about River Hill is that there was a competitiveness in the sports — and all athletes across the county are competitive — but I distinctly remember coach Lauer pushing the importance of competing consistently at a high level when it mattered in regional and state championships,” Wes said. “I think I was really, really lucky to have some great coaching while I was there. It was just wonderful experiences across the board.”
Kevin also loved sports; he just wasn’t built for athletics, and sports didn’t come as easily as they did for Wes.
“Wes was like a 6-foot-1 freshman. He was huge; Wes was a big dude. He took all of it and I got nothing,” Kevin said with a laugh. “I always tried to emulate him but I wasn’t ever really good at anything. I just couldn’t compare.”
Watching Wes run as a freshman at the county meet, in addition to having a one-on-one conversation with Lauer, inspired Kevin to run cross-country for the Howard County Striders in seventh grade. He found his passion and quit baseball.
Kevin developed slowly as a runner and also had the difficult task of being a freshman at River Hill during Wes’s senior year, but he made his way into a top-seven role by his junior season. He also fell in love with the sport.
“Kevin had to work harder at perfecting the skills that he had, which were good running skills,” Lauer said. “But he worked hard at it.”
Kevin also wrestled for a season and ran indoor and outdoor track before graduating in 2006. He ran cross-country at then-Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pa., where he originally focused on studying wildlife conservation and management before Lauer once again altered his path.
Kevin was invited to help at Lauer’s booster camp, where he “basically taught running,” after his freshman year of college. He connected the dots to his future from there.
“I was like, whoa, this is it,” Kevin said. “I always loved science . . . and I just enjoyed it. For me it was a tie-in. The science of running was a joy for me.”
Kevin started teaching at Centennial in 2010, and the next year, he became the school’s head coach of the girls’ varsity cross-country and indoor track and field teams. He led the cross-country team to state titles in 2013 and 2015 while finishing runner-up in 2012. He’s also been the girls’ outdoor track and field coach since 2014.
The technology magnet program that allowed Kevin to go to River Hill was changed before Alex made it to high school in 2005. He had no choice but to attend Atholton. “I remember in middle school being disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to follow in the footsteps of my brothers, because I really looked up to them growing up, but I think it was really helpful for me to have an opportunity to go somewhere else,” Alex said.
He started playing the same sports — soccer, basketball and baseball — but eventually went off the beaten path athletically. He was cut from his travel baseball team in middle school and decided to try a rival sport, one nobody in his family had really considered: lacrosse.
Alex was a natural from the first time he picked up a stick in seventh grade. Like Wes and Kevin, he was “heavily encouraged” by his parents and brothers to find his own niche and a sport he loved.
And like his brothers, Alex ran cross-country for four years — he even raced Kevin at the county championships in 2005.
But lacrosse was Alex’s sport.
“My brothers would always come to the games and try their best to provide feedback even though they were maybe not fluent in the game but recognized there were similar skills and concepts there,” Alex said.
Alex played three varsity seasons as a defender at Atholton before playing at McDaniel College.
Mount Hebron varsity lacrosse coach Mike McCarthy saw in him all the traits that would make a successful coach. McCarthy was anxious to bring him onto his staff as an assistant after Alex finished college.
“I wanted him on my staff because of how he played, how he knew the game and was a really good teammate and good leader,” McCarthy said. “I think he was mature beyond his age. He was 22 coaching 17- and 18-year-old kids, but you couldn’t tell.”
Alex spent five years as an assistant at Mount Hebron, during which he helped the Vikings reach the 3A/2A state championship game in 2016, before he took the head job at Atholton before the start of the 2018 season.
“We each kind of went our own separate ways but we all ended up in the same spot,” Kevin said. “It’s just how it operated. . . . It’s super weird. I can’t think of any other family relation like this in the county.”