COLLEGE SPORTS: Mark Penn Promoted to Head Coach of Florida Tech Men’s Lacrosse Team
By Space Coast Daily // September 27, 2018
Penn becomes second head coach in Florida Tech Lacrosse program history
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Florida Tech Director of Athletics Bill Jurgens has announced that Mark Penn has been promoted to the position of head coach of men’s lacrosse.
Penn, who served as assistant coach and defensive coordinator for the Panthers for the past five seasons, becomes the second head coach in the program’s eight-year history.
“I am pleased to announce Mark Penn as our new men’s lacrosse head coach at Florida Tech,” said Jurgens.
“Mark has worked in a variety of capacities at our university but his passion has always been for lacrosse. He has contributed a lot to the men’s lacrosse program’s success since stepping foot on campus as an assistant coach five years ago. I am excited for the team, and our university, for what I believe Mark will bring to the men’s lacrosse program in the future.”
“Words cannot express how proud I am to take the helm of the Florida Tech men’s lacrosse program,” said Penn.
“I want to thank Bill Jurgens and Dr. McCay for believing in my ability to run this team. I consider it a true blessing to have the opportunity to coach such incredible student-athletes, at such a prestigious university. I truly believe that this is a special place and that we can achieve great things here.
“I am very fortunate to work with such a great group of young men of high character. I really want to thank Coach McAleavey for everything he did to prepare me for this role. Most importantly, I thank GOD, with whom all things are possible.”
Penn takes over the position after former head coach Ryan McAleavey resigned earlier this month. Since Penn joined Florida Tech ahead of the 2014 season, the men’s lacrosse team has posted an overall record of 38-33 and 14-13 in Sunshine State Conference play.
During his first five years with the program, Penn has coached 36 All-SSC selections, including 14 first-team honorees, and three USILA All-Americans.
Penn helped lead Florida Tech to a 9-6 record, including a 6-1 mark in league play. After a slow start to the year, the Panthers rattled off a school-record eight straight wins over their final nine games and were one win away from earning the SSC regular season championship.
The team posted thrilling wins over No. 5 Tampa and No. 10 Mount Olive in consecutive games and started off 6-0 in conference play, becoming the first SSC team to win six league games in a single season.
Florida Tech also made the SSC Tournament for the third time in four seasons in 2018. The Crimson & Gray reached as high as No. 9 in the nation in the Nike/US Lacrosse Poll and No. 13 in the USILA Coaches Poll.
The Panthers scored 186 goals during the 2018 campaign, which is the second-most in a single season in program history. Florida Tech finished the season ranked in the top-20 in the nation in goals per game (12.4), clearing (.875), faceoffs (.571), ground balls (542) and caused turnovers per game (9.13), and sixth in the nation in ground balls per game (36.13).
The men’s lacrosse program’s best season came during Penn’s second year, in 2014-15, as the Crimson & Gray went 12-4 and made their first-ever SSC Tournament appearance.
That year, Penn helped guide a Florida Tech squad that ranked ninth in man-down defense (.776) and 18th in scoring defense (9.19).
Penn’s aggressive style of defense helped the Panthers force a school record, and league-leading, 138 caused turnovers in 2015, 50 more than the previous mark set during the 2013-14 campaign. FIT also topped the SSC with 3.63 caused turnovers per game.
Prior to Florida Tech, Penn coached at Westminster High School in Westminster, Maryland from 2011 to 2013.
In 2013, Westminster was named the Maryland High School Team of the Year after winning the Maryland 4A state title finishing as the top team in the state of Maryland, among public schools, and 14th nationally. The Owls finished runner-up in the state championship a year earlier.
During his three seasons at Westminster, Penn coached 28 all-county selections and two all-state picks. Over his final two seasons at Westminster, Penn’s defense finished No. 1 in the state of Maryland in goal differential (12.11) and fourth in opponent goals per game (4.63).
Prior to Westminster, Penn served as defensive coordinator and goalie coach for the Chesapeake Rock from 2007-13. The Rock is a club team based in Maryland that traditionally sends 75 percent of their players to NCAA Division I programs. Penn also served one season as the goalie coach for the Friends School in Baltimore, Md.
Penn played professional lacrosse for the Jacksonville Bullies in 2012 and 2013, a pro indoor lacrosse team that played in the Professional Lacrosse League (PLL).
Penn began his collegiate playing career at Essex Community College in Baltimore for one season in 1995. That year, Penn served as team captain and helped lead Essex to a runner-up finish in the NJCAA National Championship.
He was named the Final Four’s Defensive Most Valuable Player as well as selected the Region 20 Tournament MVP and tabbed to the All-Region 20 team.
After one season at Essex, Penn played one year at Division III Salisbury before transferring to Greensboro, where he helped the Pride to a 9-4 record and a top-20 national ranking in 1998.
Penn graduated from Towson University in 2000 with a degree in Sports Communication. He currently resides in Melbourne Beach, Florida with his wife, Heather, and children, Nolan, Tanner and Delaney.
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