As boys lacrosse coach at Hilton Head Island High School, Joe Monmonier would place frequent phone calls to close friend Dennis Daly, whose number was always on speed dial. The pair would discuss everything from in-game strategy to team management during their long conversations.
With three decades worth of head coaching experience in the sport, it was easy for Daly to become a confidant of Monmonier's. That made it even easier for Monmonier to name Daly the new Seahawks' head coach after he moved into the athletics director position last month.
"A lot of times I would confide in him and talk about the team," Monmonier recalled. "So he's very familiar with the process of Hilton Head, the type of players we have and our community."
Daly's hiring received approval from the district office on Monday, officially beginning a new era for Hilton Head High lacrosse in the process. The 62-year-old brings a wealth of knowledge to the Seahawks, as the Avon, Conn., native has made four head coaching stops since 1976, including stints at Middlebury College, Amherst College and Washington and Lee University.
He retired as a head coach in 2005 after 15 years at Westminster School, where he coached six high school All-Americans, two Academic All-Americans and three collegiate first-team All-Americans.
"His credentials, coaching experience and teaching experience are far superior to anyone coaching at this level today, at least in this area," Monmonier said.
"It shows in my gray hair," Daly noted.
Daly's transition into head coach will be a seamless one for Hilton Head High. Daly watched the current crop of Seahawks during the 2010 season, when he briefly served as a volunteer assistant for the junior varsity squad. His familiarity with the roster -- coupled with the bevy of information provided by Monmonier -- will make the move easy, both coaches said.
"(He's) someone that knows the program," Monmonier said. "We have very similar philosophical beliefs on games, how the team should be managed and how to develop a program versus just coaching a team. The timing was just really right for all of us."
Added Daly: "I smile because this is a talented team. I've seen the kids grow. I've seen them mature. I've seen some kids at camp. ... Everyone's done a great job in getting these kids to be good lacrosse players."
Daly and his wife, Sandy, have owned a house on Hilton Head since late 2009 but only recently moved down full-time following his brief retirement. But the veteran coach may not have moved to the Lowcountry had there not been a successful lacrosse program nearby to take part in.
"I knew I was going to be able to somehow or another keep my hand involved," he said. "I didn't think I'd be head coach, I've got to say. That's a total surprise."
His 12-year stint as athletics director at Westminster School led to some phone calls about applying for the same position at Hilton Head High, which Mark Karen vacated earlier this summer. But Daly had no interest in that, instead focusing on a possible assistant coaching position on Monmonier's staff.
Little did either know how quickly the roles would reverse.
"I don't think either of us realized I was interviewing with him for three years," Daly said, laughing.