Bailey Mahoney is the 2014 Fauquier Times Wakefield Boys Athlete of the Year
Wednesday, Jul. 23
Wakefield swimmer Bailey Mahoney will bring his U.S. flag towel to Virginia Military University this fall. --Photo By Doug Stroud
Bailey Mahoney is already “locked on.”
That's a phrase used at Virginia Military Institute to describe the school's top military cadets. They have the shiniest shoes, cleanest rooms and sharpest haircuts. They live and breathe the military.
Mahoney, a recent Wakefield School graduate, hasn't yet joined VMI, but he has been locked on his whole life. That's why VMI seems to be exactly where he belongs, and one reason he is the Fauquier Times 2014 Wakefield Boys Athlete of the Year.
Around age 9, Mahoney locked his sights on playing college lacrosse and beginning a career in the military.
“The military was what fascinated Bailey,” Mahoney's father, Tim, said. “He wanted to be a SEAL long before it was cool. He talked with my own father’s military buddies and that was that.”
Mahoney made many life decisions with his military goal in mind. He chose to attend Wakefield so he could challenge himself academically and prepare for the tough environment he would find at a military college.
A lacrosse player at heart, Mahoney joined the Wakefield swim team in the winter and used that cross training to reach his athletic peak by spring. He also joined the Owls' cross country team as a senior so he could trim down his three-mile time for the Marine Corp fitness test.
Mahoney did all this to improve his chances of becoming a United States Marine Corp officer and NCAA Division I college lacrosse player. As a byproduct, he was named Wakefield MVP in three sports and became one of the school's best all-around athletes.
His athletic life started in the backyard of his family’s Catlett home, where his father introduced him to lacrosse. Tim Mahoney had played as a child for one of the first lacrosse teams in Northern Virginia so, naturally, he passed down his passion to his son.
As soon as Bailey Mahoney picked up a stick at age 6, he was hooked. Fast play and intensity made the contact sport his favorite.
“Lacrosse is almost like a stress reliever,” Mahoney said. “The exhilaration of running around a field at full speed with the mindset of hitting someone and being hit is something that forces you to take your mind off things and just play.”
Mahoney's tenacity and endurance made him a perfect fit as a long stick midfielder, a position for players with rechargeable batteries as they run up and down a field. Mahoney has the legs to carry the ball up the field on offense and then sprint back on defense.
Strong legs and a great set of lungs also helped him during his one season as a cross country runner. He set a Wakefield record in the boys 5,000-meter run with a time of 17 minutes, 45 seconds despite having never competed in a race prior to his senior year.
As a freshman, Mahoney played soccer, but an in-game concussion kept him from returning to the sport. He didn't participate in a fall sport again until joining the cross country team this past season.
“He’s just a fantastic athlete,” Owls head cross country coach Sarah McDonough said. “You don’t really see too many people come in and start winning races their first year in cross country. There is so much to learn with technique and strategy that it is hard to do it off ability alone. He did it.”
Mahoney only wanted to use cross country as a way to get in better shape, but he became the first Wakefield runner to win a boys race since 1987.
"I wanted to hone my running technique,” Mahoney said. "Keeping fit with cross country seemed a good way to help me out with my future fitness goals for the Marines. I just tried to go into it with mindset that I was going to try to push through my physical barriers. The rule I gave to myself was that I’d never slow down once I started and would never walk.”
Mahoney often made rules for himself. In lacrosse, as a senior, he decided to never hold back on the field so he could become a college lacrosse player. Rule No. 2: He vowed that the Owls would do their best to defeat Highland, a Fauquier County rival and perennial Delaney Athletic Conference powerhouse, and qualify for state for the first time in recent memory.
Wakefield twice lost to Highland during Mahoney’s junior season, and the games weren't pretty. The Hawks outscored Wakefield, 37-2, with Mahoney scoring the only two goals.
The Owls fared better in 2014. With Mahoney leading the way as a third-year captain, the Owls got closer to beating Highland than any time in recent memory. Mahoney was a dynamic presence in both games, but Wakefield lost each, 9-8. One loss came in sudden death overtime.
“I really saw the never say die attitude from Bailey," said Tim Mahoney, Wakefield's lacrosse and swimming coach. "He was able to rally the guys and bring them all into focus."
Bailey Mahoney cherished his role as leader.
“Something I took very seriously,” he said. “I try to encourage the guys and help out the younger players by sharing my experiences. Giving the pregame pep talk will be something I miss dearly."
The Owls finished the lacrosse season 5-5 and, for the second consecutive season, lost out on the final state bid to a team with a worse record.
“How the season ended really stung,” Mahoney said. “We did feel like we were cheated from a place in states, but we were at least content with the improvements made from last season.”
Individually, Mahoney made the VISAA Division II all-state first team and the all-DAC first team. A varsity player since eighth grade, he set a trio of career records among Wakefield long stick midfielders with 751 ground balls, 33 goals and 14 assists.
“Being a long stick midfielder is more about heart and hustle than getting recognition as a goal scorer or primary attacker,” Mahoney said. “I don’t know about a legacy, but if I were to be remembered I hope it would be as a leader.”
Most of Wakefield’s top cross country runners sprawled out on the grass after long practice runs in the summer heat last cross country season.
Bailey Mahoney instead ran back to the last turn of that practice course to encourage the remaining runners.
“We didn’t name any captains last season but Bailey sure felt like one,” McDonough said. “He has innate leadership qualities. It is really something special to see.”
Mahoney served as class president his sophomore and senior years. He also founded clubs such as the Buddy Reading Club and the Red Key Club. Plus, he was a three-year captain for the lacrosse and swim teams.
“When people look to you for guidance and help there really is no greater feeling,” Mahoney said. “I have tried to develop my leadership abilities since I was little."
He honed those skills at Camp Pathfinder in Canada, where his family has long been involved. Now he hopes to utilize them in the military.
“It has been the only thing I’ve wanted to do," Mahoney said "I guess it’s just a really large feeling of patriotism that’s sort of buried in me."
"There wasn’t an event in my life that has made me want to join the military so bad," he said. "I want to … lead people and develop lifelong bonds while doing it. Creating great relationships with people is what life is all about.”
Mahoney planned to begin his military path by joining the ROTC program while attending College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. He made a verbal commitment to its men's lacrosse program in September.
Mahoney the got permission to make his yearly trip to Camp Pathfinder rather than attend a Holy Cross lacrosse camp, he said.
"When I returned I tried to call my coach. I couldn’t contact him for a few weeks," Mahoney said. "Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, an email came saying that there were no more spots on the team and that my grades were one point below the acceptance standard. I was pretty devastated.”
Mahoney now thinks that might have been divine intervention. He decided to contact VMI, which had shown a little interest in him before his commitment to Holy Cross.
“It was really messed up what Holy Cross did to me but I can only thank them because it brought me to VMI," he said. "I wanted to go there from the beginning but I decided to choose the different school because VMI showed less interest in me."
Mahoney subsequently attended a VMI lacrosse camp in Lexington and made the camp's all-star game. Then VMI's coach invited him to be a recruited walk-on.
Mahoney also received a Marine Corp scholarship that will allow him to graduate as an officer with a four year military commitment. Lieutenant Colonel Tom Mortenson, Associate Director of Admissions at VMI, traveled to Wakefield to present that scholarship to Mahoney.
“He has the mental strength and toughness to not only go through an environment like that but also thrive in it," Tim Mahoney said of VMI. "I think he’ll have a very long career in the military and he is a perfect candidate to lead men and women in the armed forces.”
VMI offers programs in four military branches, but Mahoney decided early to take a path toward the Marines.
“The Navy said that when I advanced down my career path I’d eventually be in charge of a bigger boat," he said. "The Marines told me that I’d be put in charge of more men. Right then and there I made my decision. I wanted to work with men and women on the front lines, not just get larger boats.”
Bailey Mahoney led the Wakefield swim team as a senior by placing seventh in the 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle during the Delaney Conference meet.
However, it was his role as the lead leg of the 200 freestyle relay that placed his name in another of Wakefield's record books. That relay team became the first program history to qualify for state.
The Owls placed 27th in the state race with Mahoney and his brother, Ethan, composing half the relay team. Ethan Mahoney, a junior, swam the anchor leg.
“Everything was a competition and they both thrived off each other," Tim Mahoney said. "You could see how hard they swam for one another. The bond created from those moments lasts forever."
Their sibling bond extended beyond the swimming pool. Bailey Mahoney decided to run cross country, in part, because his brother was already on the team. On the lacrosse field, their brotherly combination became the most lethal in school history.
An attackman, Ethan Mahoney led Wakefield in scoring each of the past two seasons and broke the Owls' single-season goals record as a freshman.
“Most of the time I looked for my brother to give the ball,” Bailey Mahoney said. “Getting to compete in three sports alongside my brother was incredible."
“One of my greatest hopes now is that I was able to set down a good example and foundation for Ethan to work with," he said. "I think he is going to be even better than me.”
Bailey Mahoney will also leave behind a coach he has been with since age 9 – his father, Tim.
“It was an incredible experience coaching my son and one that I think we are both lucky to have had," Tim Mahoney said. "The bonding opportunities and the amount of time I got to spend with Bailey was a gift."
“His athleticism was just on another level and never allowed for the difficulties to happen sometimes when a father coaches his kid," he said. "We were able to just focus on improving his game like any other coach and player."
Bailey Mahoney appreciated his father as a life coach even more than as a lacrosse and swim coach.
“Any leadership qualities people see in me came from him," Mahoney said. "I owe him a lot and I am very happy that my coach was able to come home with me after my games.”
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The Bailey Mahoney File
Family: Mother Jill Mahoney works for Arial Mapping Company. Father Tim owns Metro Electrical, a contracting business. Brother Ethan, 16, is a lacrosse player at Wakefield. Brother Sean, 9, attends Linton Hall.
College/major: Virginia Military Institute/International Studies with a minor in Arabic.
Future career: Marines.
Hometown: Catlett. “Have lived in the same house my whole life.”
Favorite sports teams: “All the Washington teams as well as the Green Bay Packers. I always go for the hometown teams, you just relate so much more to them than other teams.”
Spend a day with: "Brett Favre. My Mom’s side of the family is from Wisconsin so I grew up rooting for the Packers along with the Redskins. Favre was instantly my favorite player.”
Favorite clothing: “I’m a Nike guy. … I would rather go to a department store and just pick out whatever I like. Never been into the American Eagle and brands like that.”
Superstitions: “I always drink chocolate milk after games. Before the games … when I’m putting my uniform on it’s left sock first then right, and so on. It’s the same way with my stretching.”
Car: 2004 Toyota Camry. “I’ve got it decked out with a brown camouflage in the inside and like to call it the Camo’ree.”
Hobbies: “I love canoe tripping. I always go to Canada in the summer as a camp counselor and canoeing is a favorite of mine. My dad used to live in Buffalo and go to the same camp, which is how I got involved with it.”
Favorite movie: "Lone Survivor."
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