Softball coach’s stiffest competition comes from his own daughters

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

It's often said that familiarity breeds contempt. In the McGee household, that contempt is tempered with heavy doses of pride and good-natured hijinks throughout the year.

The mixed emotions are the result of a unique softball scenario. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jay McGee, the familial patriarch, serves as the head softball coach of Archbishop Wood (Pa.) High. He has two high school-aged daughters, both of whom play softball themselves. The trick is that Jade McGee is now a senior star for Conwell-Egan (Pa.) High and freshman Jenna McGee is the starting second baseman for Archbishop Ryan (Pa.) High.

Archbishop Wood softball coach Jay McGee, Conwell Eagan softball player Jade McGee and Archbishop Ryan softball player Jenna McGee
Archbishop Wood softball coach Jay McGee, Conwell Eagan softball player Jade McGee and Archbishop Ryan softball player Jenna McGee

The three Catholic schools share a stirring rivalry that plays out on athletic fields in the Philadelphia area periodically throughout the year … and at the McGee dinner table nearly every night.

"Some days, there will be tears around here," Jay McGee told the Inquirer. "Some days, there will be cheers. It all depends on who wins or loses. ...

"We're used to it. We're a softball family. … There have been times when we've driven home from games in places like Allentown and not a word was spoken."

As intensely competitive as all the members of the McGee family are, the softball trio is growing more accustomed to its divided loyalties, even if they are a relatively new development. Jay McGee became involved in softball when his daughters began playing the sport, starting with Jade McGee at age 8. He coached both Jade and Jenna's teams throughout their youth, then eventually rose to the level of junior varsity coach at Archbishop Wood in 2006.

When Jenna McGee decided to attend Conwell-Eagan, Jay McGee followed suit, leaving his post as Wood's junior varsity coach to become an assistant coach at C-E. He filled that role ably for three years, impressing others in the area enough to earn an offer from his former employers at Archbishop Wood to become the school's head coach in 2011.

"When I was offered the position [at Wood], we talked about it for a long time," Jay McGee told the Inquirer. "Everybody seemed to be in agreement that I should take it."

The "everybody" to which he refers focuses solely on his family, with Jade McGee's voice playing a significant role in the decision.

"I had looked forward to him being at my school for my senior year, but I was happy to see him get to be a head coach," said Jade McGee, who will attend Millersville but doesn't plan to play softball there. Planning to major in biology, she wants to see how her studies go.

In keeping with her effort to show that she was completely neutral, Jade McGee wore white when she went to Jenna's game against Wood. It was played under the lights at Ryan. She wore no school colors.

"I'm very proud of him for what he's accomplished," Jade said.

As proud as she and her sister Jenna may be, they still want to beat their father's team, a feat which Jenna McGee's Archbishop Ryan squad achieved last Thursday. After her father had hidden her jersey underneath his bed to try and throw Jenna off her game, the second baseman and her teammates rallied to knock off Wood, 2-1, in an eight-inning game.

As one might expect following such a tense faceoff, the McGees opted to take a rain check on discussing the game afterward.

"I didn't see my father after the game," Jenna McGee told the Inquirer. "He went home and straight to bed. He didn't want to talk to anyone."

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