After 15 seasons as head coach of the Notre Dame College men’s soccer team, Michael McBride decided to make a change. He was offered the position as head coach of the women’s soccer team at Nicholls State University, so, he made the move from Ohio to Louisiana.
The change did not come without its challenges, but Coach “Mac” said it was his new community that made him feel like he was finally home.
McBride played soccer for numerous teams over the course of about thirty years, and even coached a team while he was an undergrad himself. On his journey to transferring from a player to a head coach, McBride said, “It was just a natural progression, really.”
It was McBride’s experiences while playing soccer that began his coaching career in the United States.
“I was playing for a team of people from England in the summer, and there was a tournament in Columbus, Ohio. I happened to have a couple of pretty good games. The coach saw me, and asked if I wanted to go to his school,” McBride said.
Coach Mac spent most of his life in Birmingham, England prior to that point, and never imagined that it would change.
“It wasn’t planned, just a bit of good fortune,” McBride said.
In England, Birmingham is the biggest provincial city outside of London. McBride encountered changes when moving to coach in the much smaller town of South Euclid, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio.
“It was a bit slower than I was used to,” McBride said. “I certainly know when I used to go back home, everything used to seem a lot faster.”
The biggest difference McBride encountered in moving to Ohio was “big sports teams.” Living near Cleveland provided a wealth of professional sports teams not found in England.
“I got to experience American football, baseball, basketball and there was actually ice hockey there,” McBride said.
After settling down in Ohio, McBride spent 15 seasons as the head coach of the Notre Dame College men’s soccer team.
“It was comfortable,” McBride said on his tenure with the Falcons. “I refer to my former program as a turn-key operation. Everybody knew their role, and I actually think that made it easier for players and coaches alike.”
McBride said that it became easy to put new players into existing positions.
While McBride insisted that he loved coaching at Notre Dame, Nicholls offered him a scenario he could not find in Ohio.
“One of the reasons that I’m glad that I left is the challenge,” McBride said. “I visited Nicholls and I really liked it, but I never knew that there would be the possibility that I’d be here.”
McBride’s family already lived in the area, which he said made the decision to leave such a comfortable situation a bit easier. According to McBride, Nicholls reminded him of Notre Dame in a lot of ways.
“The community here is incredibly supportive, as was the community at Notre Dame. I know the team here can be very successful because of the people that surround the team. People are falling over themselves to help, it’s that Colonel pride. It’s great to be playing for something that’s bigger than yourself.”
“It’s not a knock on Ohio,” McBride said, “but I’ve never in all my many years experienced such a welcoming community. I wish I could’ve moved here years ago.” McBride said that this open kindness of the people in Louisiana was the largest change from anywhere he had lived before.
“I know every one of my neighbors already, I knew them within days. They’d come over, knock on my door, and bring me food,” McBride said. “They were even cutting my grass while I was away.”
McBride said that having his job here is “like raising two families.” He sees not only the people living at home as his family, but the girls he coaches as well.
“I tell my team not to use the word ‘sacrifice,’ but instead use ‘commitment.’ Family comes before the program,” McBride said.
Looking into the future, McBride has ambitious plans for where he would like to lead Nicholls soccer, as he said, “We have to be in the NCAA Tournament. With the appropriate support, we can do that within the next four or five years, maybe sooner.”
After all of his experiences, Coach Mac believes that his background, the spirit of his team, and the support of the community can catapult Nicholls soccer into places never seen before. McBride has had quite the journey, but he clearly is not yet finished.