This year, Baron Athletes will take the field with new leadership in several sports. Saint Mary’s Hall is excited to welcome three outstanding full-time head coaches and educators, Hector Cano, Valerie Lohr, and Mark McNeill to Starcrest Drive.
Hector Cano joins Saint Mary's Hall as Director of Soccer and Head Coach of Varsity Women's Soccer. He will also serve as a Middle School Fitness Coach and Director of Sports Performance & Athletic Mindset. No stranger to SMH, Hector returns to us after two years at Ysleta High School in El Paso, where he served as a Teacher and Head Varsity Women's Soccer Coach. At Ysleta, he led the resurgence of their women's soccer program with their first winning season in six years and their first 10-game winning season in 12 years. Previously at SMH, Hector served as the Director of Soccer and Head Coach of Varsity Women's Soccer and Sports Performance Coordinator. During his time on campus, he helped lead the Barons women's soccer program to five state playoff berths, one district, two bi-district, two area titles, one regional title, and a berth in the 2017 TAPPS D-II (5A) State Tournament. He also had 10 All-State and 12 Academic All-State selections. He brings more than 12 years of soccer coaching experience, having also coached at the United States Air Force Academy, club levels in Texas and Colorado, and at the semi-professional level in Europe. Hector retired from the United States Air Force as a Master Sergeant and holds 20 years of honorable military experience in team building, character, and leadership development. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Management & Exercise Science from Wayland Baptist University and a Master of Science in Sports Management & Administration from the University of the Incarnate Word.
"In so many ways this is a homecoming. My family and I are excited to return to Saint Mary's Hall because of their commitment to the innovative and holistic development of their entire community. Known for its student-centered approach, what attracted me most to return was the opportunity to serve the Baron community in a groundbreaking capacity as Director of Sports Performance & Athletic Mindset and its dedication to the experiential learning of our students," shared Cano.
Valerie Lohr joins Saint Mary's Hall as Head Coach of Varsity Field Hockey and the Coordinator of Student Well-Being. Valerie comes to SMH from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, where she served as Head Coach of the field hockey program, an adjunct faculty member, an Independent Study Supervisor, and the Title IX Deputy Coordinator. For USA Hockey, she has been a Regional Head Coach & Selector and the Futures/Nexus National Tournament Head Coach. Before Allegheny, she coached and served in administrative roles in several college and independent school programs. Valerie received her Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Political Science and History from Lehigh University. She earned a Juris Doctorate from Pennsylvania State University’s Dickinson School of Law and was later admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Southern New Hampshire University with anticipated graduation in 2022. Valerie played both field hockey and lacrosse at Lehigh University and began her coaching career after her graduation. She spent four years at Dickinson College, serving as an assistant for both the Red Devils' field hockey and women's lacrosse programs, and was named to the Dickinson College Hall of Fame as a coach. Valerie recently joined the AAU Junior Olympic Games Coaching Staff for the 2021 AAU Junior Olympic Games. Along with strengthening and growing the SMH field hockey program, Valerie will be working closely with students and faculty as well as teaching Health and Wellness in the Upper School.
"Joining the SMH team is an honor. The administration, faculty, and staff are intelligent, kind, and engaging people who work diligently to guide the students through this stage of their lives and prepare them for beyond. I am humbled to be counted among them and excited to join the community. The students are exceptional and among the most driven and conscientious young people I have had the privilege to work with to date. Their ideas, effort, and exuberance for life are refreshing and contagious. Together we are creating a space for them to grow in their health and wellness and it is something quite special," said Lohr. "As the Varsity Field Hockey Coach, and speaking for our staff which includes Coach Corey Lohr and Coach Courtney Cooke, I can say that we are impressed with the level of engagement, passion, and commitment this team of young women have for the sport and each other. The team is eager to learn new things and take on the challenge each and every day. They are truly a team looking to build a legacy of success and it is thrilling to be a part of their journey."
Mark McNeill joins SMH as Varsity Head Lacrosse Coach and Director of Admission Outreach. Mark joins us from Magothy River Middle School, where he taught 6th grade math. He is a professional lacrosse player and a midfielder for the Archers LC in the Premier Lacrosse League. Mark graduated from St. Mary’s High School of Annapolis and was a 2010 Under Armour All-America selection. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), where he was a two-sport athlete and a four-year member of both the lacrosse and football teams. During his time at UNC, he helped lead the Tar Heels to the ACC title and a berth in the NCAA quarterfinals. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and Management & Society, Mark pursued his passion for lacrosse and has spent the last seven years coaching various age groups and playing professionally. He was drafted 50th overall by the Chesapeake Bayhawks in the 2014 Major League Lacrosse collegiate draft. This summer, Mark was invited to participate in the Premier Lacrosse League All-Star Game. Along with strengthening our admission network and outreach program, Mark brings energy and passion to the Athletic Department, directly benefiting SMH student-athletes.
“The first time I stepped on campus, I was amazed at the constant smiles and friendly gestures. Parents, students, and faculty all seem to value their Saint Mary's Hall experience; to be a part of this innovative and dynamic community is what excites me most," said McNeill. "The Admission Office is the heartbeat of a school. As the Director of Admission Outreach, I have the opportunity to build something new, to create a truly unique and impactful environment for our families and the community. I understand the rich history of the lacrosse program, and as the Head Lacrosse Coach, I want them to think of Saint Mary's Hall when people think of San Antonio lacrosse. The opportunity to spread and grow the game of lacrosse is compelling.”
SMH coaches are dedicated to helping student-athletes reach their full potential on the tack, courts, and fields, and in the classroom and in life. Athletics play a vital role in the development of students at SMH. More than 80% of Upper and Middle School students play at least one sport and many athletes participate in as many as three sports annually. Interscholastic athletics at Saint Mary’s Hall give students an arena to test their limits, cultivate sportsmanship, and master teamwork.
These versatile mentors bring a wealth of coaching, playing, and life experience to the athletics program and school. We look forward to seeing our newest coaches lead our athletes on the field this year!
Learn more about SMH Athletics by visiting www.smhall.org/athletics.