Toomey, Tillman Finish Bittersweet Afternoon in Foxborough
NCAA Division I Men's Championship
When they met at the end of the handshake line after Loyola's convincing, 9-3 win in the NCAA national championship game on Monday, Charley Toomey and John Tillman gave each other a long embrace. Each one shared mixed emotions about how the game played out – Toomey happy for his Loyola players but disappointed for his friend and Tillman having the exact opposite feelings for his Maryland team.
"You never like to lose, and my hearts bleeds for these guys," said Tillman in the postgame press conference, referring to his players. "I know how much it would mean to our administration and our school and our state, but if we're not going to win it, I'm so happy for a guy that does everything the right way."
"We talked at the 50-yard line before the game, and said it was going to be a bittersweet game for both of us," said Toomey. "With a win, you're so excited, but you also feel for the guy in that other locker room. I know John's excited for me. He came up and gave me a big hug and said I'm so proud it's you."
The two have known each other since Tillman followed Toomey as the assistant at Navy and lived in the same neighborhood in Annapolis. Running in the tight lacrosse coaching circles, the two now have a relationship that borders on brotherly.
Tillman has stayed at the Toomey household when he hasn't been able to get home for holidays and the two will travel together on recruiting road trips. Sometimes that kind of familiarity can get stale, but these two have grown into each other's biggest fans.
"He's just a special human being," said Toomey. "The way he goes about his business with his program and the way he talks to his athletes, those kids play awfully hard for John. I think you see that on the sidelines and you see that on the field for sure."
"He has not allowed kids to play this year because they weren't doing the right thing in school," said Tillman. "He's given those kids the discipline and life lessons that they're going to use for a long time and he's stuck to his guns, even if it meant hurting his team's ability to win games. To have the courage to do that in a sport where sometimes people define you by wins and losses just speaks volumes about the type of person he is."
Most friends might take a little time off from each other, if only to let the victor enjoy the celebration and the vanquished to lick wounds.
Toomey and Tillman are not like most friends.
"He's a guy I'll probably be in the car with tomorrow driving to Long Island to start recruiting again," said Toomey.