NFL head coach and recent Super Bowl champion Sean McVay credits much of his success to the “foundational principles” instilled in him by his Catholic school education.
McVay holds the distinct honor of being the youngest NFL head coach of all time, and now the youngest to win a Super Bowl. Hired by the Los Angeles Rams at the age of 30 in 2017, McVay has rattled off five straight winning seasons on his way to two Super Bowl appearances, with the championship coming this year.
McVay graduated from Marist School in Atlanta, Georgia, the oldest Catholic secondary school in the metro area. He attended Marist from 7th grade through high school, where he played soccer for one year before switching to the “other” football. A four-year starter for the high school football team, he hit his stride his junior and senior year playing quarterback.
McVay is the first player in the school’s history to throw and rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. In 2003, he led the Marist War Eagles to the state championship while also being named Georgia’s AAAA player of the year.
Alan Chadwick, head football coach at Marist for more than four decades, praised McVay’s intensity and work ethic in his time at Marist. “He brought great intensity to his preparation, workouts and had a tremendous understanding of the game,” said Chadwick.
Recalling when Marist won the state championship, Atlanta Auxiliary Bishop Joel M. Konzen, who was principal of Marist School at the time, said McVay’s leadership was key to their success. “The team acknowledged that he was their leader. Sean gave most of the credit to his teammates for a win, making light of his own contribution. That kind of modesty was how Sean demonstrated his commitment to the Marist Way,” the bishop told The Georgia Bulletin.
McVay’s leadership and intensity translated well to the next level at Miami University of Ohio, where he played wide receiver. He received Miami’s Scholar Athlete award in 2007, graduating in 2008 with a bachelor of science in health and sports studies.
McVay kicked off his NFL coaching career for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an assistant wide receivers coach. Then, after a brief stint in the United Football League, he returned to the NFL in 2010 as an assistant tight ends coach for the Washington Redskins. Promoted twice while in Washington, McVay became the offensive coordinator for the 2016 team that set offensive records for the franchise.
That success made him a hot prospect for head coaching jobs in 2017 when the Rams snagged him to fill their vacancy. In 2018, McVay was named Coach of the Year in the NFL, leading the team to an appearance in the Super Bowl. Though his team lost, it was apparent that he was just getting started.
A third-generation football star, success on the football field appears to be in McVay’s DNA. His father played football at the University of Indiana, while his grandfather, John, also has strong NFL ties. From 1979 to 1995, John was vice president and director of football operations for the San Francisco 49ers, some of the best years for the franchise. John was inducted into the team’s hall of fame in 2013.
Though McVay seemed hardwired for football success, he still remembers the impact Marist had on him all those years ago. “Marist is a special place because of all the unique people,” McVay said as a guest speaker to the 2021 Marist Graduating class.
“I’ve been so fortunate and blessed because there’s so many of the foundational principles that were instilled in me from the time I got here, from 7th grade to 12th grade, that have been instrumental in a lot of the things that have been good in my life.”