OPINION: McGahey puts team first, CMU's finest coach
Former University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler once said, "No coach is more important than the team."
Peter McGahey, head coach of Central Michigan's women's soccer team, exemplifies Schembechler's message exactly.
As the soccer beat writer for Central Michigan Life, I sat and spoke with McGahey every Wednesday morning during the season to catch up with him and the players. Not only did he explain to me the nuances of upcoming matches, but how he treats each day.
During the World Series, McGahey talked about his past love for the game of baseball and watching Harry Caray on WGN as a kid. He joked how after he "saw a curveball for the first time," he fully committed to soccer. He admitted he'd always loved soccer more, but that was the last time he played organized baseball.
"I think (quitting baseball) has worked out quite well for you, coach," I replied to him. He took the compliment quietly with a smile.
Words weren't needed to prove his loyalty and passion for the game of soccer.
McGahey doesn't take anything for granted. If you've met him, you can tell from the way he speaks about the team and his job. If you haven't met him, you can see the passion he displays during each game, constantly trying to create success in every offensive and defensive play. He praises his entire team unlike any other coach I've covered at CMU. He constantly showcases his care for the players and assistant coaches.
Whether it was during the team's eight-game winning streak to begin the season, or during the team's 4-0 blowout loss at Northern Illinois, McGahey was always willing to talk with me about each game. Regardless of the result, he was always enthusiastic to glorify not just one player, but the team.
When sophomore forward Alexis Pelafas won the MAC Offensive Player of the Week, McGahey said it was a team effort.
"It's a well deserved recognition for her and the team in terms of what she has been able to accomplish this season and this past week," he said.
Of course he brings up the team for an individual record — that's just the kind of person and coach he is.
When I interviewed Pelafas after she broke CMU's single-season scoring record, she said something that sounds familiar to what her head coach would say.
"I knew (the record) was there, but I wasn't even really thinking about it. I was thinking about winning the game. Afterwards, everyone was really happy for me," she said. "It was an honor and it was humbling, but I think the team should get just as much recognition as I am."
McGahey has influenced how his team thinks, plays and acts. He has instilled passion into this program during his four-year tenure and has the potential to leave a legacy at CMU — something no coach has truly done here in a long time.
The 2016 season was the first time during his tenure the team was over .500 at the end of the season. He led those three losing squads the same way he does now.
Frankly, McGahey is the greatest leader of a team CMU currently has. His ability to lead and influence the women on the team makes me want to have a similar influence on my peers.
The team should be just as good, if not better, next season. I encourage students to go out and support it. If you are a true sports fan, you will love the way the Chippewas play the sport. They bring more intensity and heart to a sporting event than I've seen at CMU.
It all starts with not just Pete, but the entire team. Because no one, including coach McGahey, is more important than the team. That's how he likes it.