By SAMANTHA SMITH, Staff Writer | Published February 14, 2022
ATLANTA—Under the bright lights and falling confetti, surrounded by his team, their families and thousands of fans in SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, Sean McVay raised high the Vince Lombardi Super Bowl championship trophy.
To win the game feels outstanding, said McVay, head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams were behind in the third quarter, before scoring the winning touchdown within the last two minutes of the game. McVay called it “poetic.”
“You talk about a resilient team, coaches, players; I’m so proud of this group,” said McVay in post-game comments. “We talk about competitive greatness all the time, being your best when your best is required.”
Sean McVay, 36, led the Los Angeles Rams to victory against the Cincinnati Bengals in the National Football League (NFL) Super Bowl LVI on Sunday, Feb. 13. The final score was 23-20. McVay is the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl championship in NFL history.
McVay gravitated to football from soccer in eighth grade at Marist School in Atlanta, following the footsteps of three McVay generations. His father, Tim, played football at Indiana University in Bloomington. His grandfather, John, was vice president and director of football operations for the San Francisco 49ers from 1979-1995 and was later inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2013.
Alan Chadwick, head football coach at Marist for more than 40 years, described McVay as explosive, agile and competitive as a Marist player.
“He brought great intensity to his preparation, workouts and had tremendous understanding of the game,” said Chadwick.
McVay was a four-year starter and quarterback his junior and senior year while playing for the Marist War Eagles. In 2003, he led the football team to a state championship and was named the Georgia AAAA Offensive Player of the Year. McVay was the first player in the school’s history to rush and throw for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.
Bishop Joel M. Konzen, SM, principal of Marist School while McVay attended, remembers him as an easygoing and friendly student.
In 2003, when Marist won the state championship, Bishop Konzen recalls McVay’s leadership.
“The team acknowledged that he was their leader,” said the bishop. “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.”
Marist School is an independent Catholic and college preparatory school owned and operated by the Society of Mary. It is the oldest Catholic secondary school in the Atlanta area.
After graduating from Marist in 2004, McVay attended Miami University where he played wide receiver. In 2007, he received Miami’s Scholar Athlete Award and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in health and sports studies in 2008.
His NFL career began as assistant wide receivers coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After working for a year as the quality control and wide receivers coach for the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League, McVay returned to the NFL as assistant tight end coach for the Washington Redskins in 2010.
While coaching for Washington, it was apparent that McVay was going to be a good coach, said Chadwick.
During his time with the Washington Redskins, McVay was promoted twice, eventually becoming offensive coordinator for the team. In 2016, he coached the offensive unit to record breaking statistics for the franchise.
McVay was named head coach for the Los Angeles Rams in 2017, making him the youngest NFL head coach in history at 30 years old. The Associated Press named McVay the Coach of the Year in 2018,—the youngest head coach to ever receive the award. Three years ago, McVay made his first Super Bowl appearance as head coach for the Rams against the New England Patriots when it was hosted in his hometown of Atlanta.
During his five seasons with the Rams, McVay has led the team through four consecutive winning seasons, two Super Bowl appearances and now a Super Bowl championship.
And as his coaching career continues to soar, he continues to hold fond memories of his time at Marist School.
“Marist is a special place because of all the unique people,” said McVay to the 2021 Marist graduating class at their guest speaker. “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 seventh grade to twelfth grade, that have been instrumental in a lot of the things that have been good in my life.”
The Atlanta school honored McVay with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2020.
Chadwick and McVay have kept in touch over the years. After the Los Angeles Rams won the NFC championship game on Jan. 30, Chadwick reached out to the head coach to wish him luck in the Super Bowl.
“He’s done extremely well for himself and should continue to do that for many years to come,” said Chadwick.