Coach Spotlight | Jay Watts

By Anna Beth Coffman
Learn more about athletic director and head varsity lacrosse coach Jay Watts.
GPS Athletic Director Jay Watts came to GPS not only with an impressive inventory of coaching accolades, but also with a history and passion for the schools in Blue.

An alumnus of GPS’s brother school, Watts graduated from McCallie in 1990. After teaching and coaching at Westminster, an independent school in Atlanta, for 23 years, he returned to the Scenic City in 2017 to lead the Bruisers’ Athletics Department. Drawn to the all-girls school’s academic reputation and great tradition of athletics, "I could not be more excited to become a part of the GPS community and further its efforts to develop the very best athletic program for girls,” Watts said, when he first joined the Bruiser Nation two years ago.

Watts was introduced to lacrosse during his senior year at McCallie as a member of the Blue Tornado’s first varsity team. He also ran cross country in the fall of his sophomore, junior, and senior years. During his last two years on The Ridge, his coaching career began through a volunteer position with a youth basketball team at the Henry Branch YMCA. Little did he realize at that time that sports and coaching would become such a huge part of his future.

While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the College of William & Mary, however, Watts began to recognize how impactful the role of sports was in his life. “I began missing the opportunity to be a part of team sports, so I coached basketball again at a local middle school and high school,” Watts said. “I have always loved competitive sports and the feeling you have when you are a part of something bigger than yourself.”

While Watts coached cross country, middle school football, and various levels of basketball at Westminster, lacrosse is where he made his biggest mark. Since starting the program at the Atlanta school in 1999, his teams won nine state championships and were one of the 10-winningest high school programs in the country from 1999-2017. His teams had an overall record of 338-44-7, making Watts one of the 15 all-time winningest high school girls lacrosse coaches in the U.S. With GPS’s win over Farragut on April 13 of this spring, Watts became the first girls lacrosse coach south of Virginia to ever reach 350 career wins.

While coaching in Georgia, Watts was recognized as the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association (GACA) State Girls Lacrosse Coach of the Year five times, as well as the GACA Area Girls Lacrosse Coach of the Year 11 times. In 2013, Watts was selected as one of only eight high school coaches in the country to coach in the US Lacrosse/Champion High School Girls All-American Showcase in Orlando, and he has coached Team Georgia at the US Lacrosse National Tournament on a number of occasions. Watts was elected to the Georgia Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Westminster Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016.

In addition to his coaching accomplishments, Watts has also been a high school lacrosse official for more than a decade. He served on the NFHS Girls Lacrosse Rules Committee from 2007 to 2015 and chairec that committee from 2011 to 2015. An active volunteer with US Lacrosse, the national governing body of men’s and women’s lacrosse, Watts served as the Chair of US Lacrosse’s Safety Education Committee and sat on the Executive Committee for the Women’s Division Board of Governors from 2005 until 2009. In 2009, he was the volunteer delegate for US Lacrosse at the Women’s Lacrosse World Cup in Prague, Czech Republic. “It is hard to believe that my high school experiences at McCallie led me to a trip overseas representing our sport’s entire national governing body,” Watts said.

Watts’ exposure to international lacrosse in 2009 led him to apply for a head coaching job with the Polish Women’s National team when it became open in late 2017. He was selected for that position in the spring of 2018 and has since spent time last summer and this spring in Poland, preparing his squad for competition. This summer, the Polish Women’s National Team will compete in Prague in the Prague Cup, an event that will feature teams from England, Austria, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and the U.S.

An all-around sports junkie, Coach Watts also enjoys watching sports, especially at the college level. With his roots in Gadsden, Alabama, Watts often cheers for the Crimson Tide. When not absorbed in sports, he is likely listening to podcasts, following the stock market, or enjoying time with his family.

One of Coach Watts’ all-time favorite quotes is by Joseph J. Plumeri II, College of William and Mary, Class of 1966: “You've got to fall in love with something. Without love, there is no passion. Without passion, you cannot be great. Without greatness, you cannot succeed.”