When Kevin McCarthy ’23 heard his knee pop during a game, he says he just instinctively knew it was an ACL tear. It was the fall of his sophomore year and he was at a lacrosse tournament with his club team. The on-field trainer thought it might be just a hypertension, but the next morning when Kevin tried to take some warm-up shots on goal, his knee buckled and that was it. While the injury forced Kevin to miss his sophomore season, he was determined to be a consistent presence on the sideline while also staying focused on rehabbing his knee to get back on the field as soon as possible.
Kevin has loved the sport of lacrosse for as long as he can remember. He spent the first eight years of his life living in Maryland, the state many consider the lacrosse capital of the country, and started playing very early on. Kevin had two older cousins who played D1 lacrosse and before long, he started playing catch with his dad and younger brother, Hudson ‘25. Like most athletes, he tried a wide variety of other sports but lacrosse was always his favorite by far and before long, those two hours on the field became the highlight of every day.
When the McCarthy family moved to South Carolina in 2013, it was not easy leaving behind a world where lacrosse was so widely known and high levels of competition were available. However, his parents made a promise – that they would do whatever it took to support Kevin and Hudson in their lacrosse journeys. Kevin and Hudson became plugged in with club teams out of Charlotte, NC which has required hundreds of hours of driving back and forth over the years.
Kevin became acquainted with Joe Cummings, former CCES Boys Lacrosse Head Coach, soon after arriving in Greenville. Kevin describes Joe as a “father figure” to all the guys on the team, someone who wouldn’t hesitate to be there for them, regardless of when and where. After his injury, Joe was intentional about finding ways to keep Kevin involved as a part of the team. It was a young team that year, and Kevin often helped coach during practices, offering insights from the sidelines. When their first game came around, Joe tossed Kevin his phone and told him to “vlog” for their team Instagram account. Before long, Kevin’s Instagram stories were a staple, with parents and other students tuning in during games. Kevin says, “It was really fun, and it gave me a way to stay involved and be a part of the team without playing.” At their end-of-season banquet, Kevin received the “Unsung Hero Award,” an honor that “meant a lot” and recognized all he did to help and support the team from the sidelines.
One of the first things that stood out to Joe when he met Kevin in 2013 was “his love for the game.” It’s this joy that helped Kevin make the best of his torn ACL. Joe says, “Doing PT and working out alone can be isolating, but Kevin stayed engaged with his teammates. He earned a lot of respect from his classmates and became a student-coach, helping everyone on the team grow their game in his absence on the field.” While Joe is now coaching in Memphis, he still considers himself one of Kevin’s “biggest fans.” He says, “The adversity he’s overcome has prepared him well for the world, and I’m excited to see what he decides to do in his life.”
Kevin has always wanted to play lacrosse collegiately, and the summer of sophomore year is considered the most important time for recruiting. So while he was naturally upset and angry about the injury, struggling to process it especially in the beginning, Kevin was determined to be back for his summer club season and used that as motivation throughout all the ups and downs of rehab. There is an extremely wide range of recovery times for ACL tears, but after six months of waking up early to lift with Coach Cottingham before school and going to physical therapy and agility training after school, Kevin was cleared for action well ahead of schedule.
In addition to his CCES coaches and teammates, Kevin also leaned heavily on his club coach, Ryan Flanagan, while processing and rehabbing his injury. Coach Flanagan suffered an ACL tear during his playing days and would often reach out to check in and encourage him. While Ryan speaks highly of Kevin’s “exceptional lacrosse IQ” and other technical aspects of his game, he equally praises Kevin’s character. Flanagan says, “Kevin’s greatest strengths are his leadership skills and competitive fire. He plays with a ton of passion and loves to compete in everything we do. It doesn’t matter if it a groundball drill at practice or overtime of a big game, he is wired the same way and is going to do whatever it takes to win.”
As Kevin kicks off his senior season at CCES as one of the team’s captain, he looks back at the sophomore season and believes it helped him tremendously in developing his leadership skills. He is excited for this season and believes the team has “all the pieces to put together another championship run.” However, the team will have to do so without last year’s leading goal-scorer and Kevin’s younger brother, Hudson.
Hudson tore his ACL this summer, and while this is the last role he had ever wished to take on, Kevin has been by his brother’s side, physically and emotionally through the process – working out with him, encouraging him, playing catch with him, and just trying to keep his spirits high. He has tried to involve Hudson with the team as much as possible, encouraging him to be more vocal with the team and really use this opportunity to develop his leadership skills. Kevin says, “I learn things from Hudson all the time so the more we can get his high lacrosse IQ involved, the better it is for the team and for me.”
Hudson describes watching his brother go through the rehab journey two years ago “both painful and inspiring.” He says, “Kevin has been there for me every step of the way [these past 8 months]. He has helped prepare me for the uncertainty of surgery, instilled in me that all it takes is hard work, and his entire story inspires me to never give up because it will all be worth it in the end.”
While the team certainly misses Hudson’s presence on the field, they are excited to be back together and competing. Kevin says the team had a great offseason, motivated and working hard through the many 6 AM workouts and practices. The season officially started last week and the team is currently 3-0 with big wins over JL Mann, Wando, and Oceanside. Head Coach Joey Porchetta credits a lot of their success as a team to Kevin’s leadership on and off the field. He says, “When Kevin is on the field, he commands a lot of attention and leads his teammates well. He is confident and challenges those around him, he’s eager to learn, asks questions, and is always looking to get better. He is coachable and passionate.”
His passion and love for the game of lacrosse has been a theme throughout Kevin’s life and is very clear to all who interact with him. While he would love to see lacrosse continue to grow in the state of South Carolina and in the United States, Kevin is also excited about where the sport is going globally. Over Christmas break, Kevin had the opportunity to travel to Israel with the Israel Lacrosse Federation as they continue to grow the game over there. He will play for Israel’s U-18 team in the Heritage Cup this spring and hopes to one day represent Israel in the Lacrosse World Championships.
Kevin has big aspirations as he moves to a different chapter this spring and summer, both athletically and academically. Kevin has committed to playing lacrosse at Kenyon College in Ohio, where he plans to pursue a degree in political science. After undergrad, he hopes to continue on to law school. Whatever Kevin ends up pursuing, it sounds like lacrosse will still be a common thread, with his two high school coaches – Joe Cummings and Joey Porchetta – guessing there may be some coaching in his future. Whether it’s this last season as a Cavalier, his time at Kenyon, or future opportunities with the Israel Lacrosse Federation, CCES will always be cheering for Kevin! Go Cavs!
to follow the lax team on IG and click here
for their 2023 schedule!