Written by: John Wang (Grade 12)
Photos by: Anderson Gao (Grade 8) & Jake Vrlak (Grade 11)
Sharing Mac’s wisdom and love for soccer!
Although he enjoys filming and teaching English, soccer, or “football”, in his words, is undoubtedly Mr. Steven “Mac” McCauley’s biggest passion. If you have ever visited his room, you will find it decorated with jerseys, banners, and souvenirs of his favourite teams. Why? You may wonder. It is not simply because he faithfully follows the sport, but also because he wants to spread the love for it. One way he does this is through coaching. Mr. Mac has been leading the Varsity Boys Soccer Team to (almost) glory for quite a few years now, and I had the pleasure to sit down with him to discuss his experiences as a coach. I’ll let the interview speak for itself.
John: First of all, when did you start teaching at this school?
Mac: I just had to answer this question! I can’t remember when it was exactly [but] I think it was 2006.
John: It’s been a long time, almost 15 years?
John: What about the soccer team, when did you start coaching it?
Mac: I coached the girls [first] for five years. So it’s been I guess about eight or nine now [coaching the Varsity Boys].
John: How has the soccer program developed over the years you’ve been here?
Mac: I think we are becoming more competitive. I think our numbers are up [and] we see that there are more higher-level soccer players coming to the school too. That plays a part. I would like to think that we’ve created a bit of a culture where people want to be part of something where they have to work hard and develop skills, and that commitment is what also helps push programs forward; good examples of that would be Dawson’s cross country program. The culture he built around cross-country filtered to a lot of other coaches here. And that hard work and dedication to creating something bigger than an individual is important.
John: And we can see this culture in the way we play. Like we’re not just out there kicking the ball, we’re fighting for each other.
Mac: Yeah, I think that’s important. I think that we are improving that culture year after year.
John: Our school’s much smaller than some of the other schools out there [number-wise] yet we always have a chance against them. Do you think this is part of the reason why?
Mac: Yeah, I think once you start to accept or embrace yourself as an underdog, you don’t have a lot to lose and you can only push better and better and better so. I think when you’re constantly measuring yourself against, you know, more competitive schools or triple-A schools or schools that have a larger number than us it’s important to showcase what teamwork and good preparation can do.
John: Yup, and it feels real good when you beat them!
Mac: It feels real good. Winning’s good [laughs].
John: We all know that you were a soccer player back in the day
Mac: Way back in the day!
John: Way back in the day. Do you think that experience has helped you connect with the student-athletes?
Mac: Yeah, I think so. I like to think that I try to bring a little bit of experience in terms of how hard you need to work to improve [because] hard work, dedication and focus in training is what translates to better play. And I hope that my desire to win, be passionate and committed to training whether it’s passing the ball five yards or trying to win a four on four is what helps me connect. I like to think that what I’ve learned in my years of playing at that [professional] level [is what] I’m trying to bring to you guys. Like look, you can always be better, always be better.
John: Because you coach a school team and players come and go, what’s your key to structuring a team in a short period of time with new players coming in and leaving every single year?
Mac: Well, I think there are two important things there. One is that all teams have an expiration date, and I don’t think I could continue to [coach] if there isn’t some sort of turnover. Right? You know, you look at professional teams and they need to reset.
John: Like Real [Madrid] right now?
Mac: Sure, like they need to bring new players [into the team], some players have to leave because otherwise certain messages might become stagnant. [There is] a shelf life for teams, but I think what I try to do is to look at the strengths everyone brings, look at the burgeoning leaders willing to take responsibility and cultivate that responsibility. But I think it’s all about trying to find balance as much as possible; and when you’re doing something in two and a half months, less than, then trying to expedite that process can be difficult, right?
John: It is a challenge no doubt, but would you say that you enjoy the challenge?
Mac: I love the challenge! Yeah, [I love it. A lot of] how we play or our results whether they be good or bad, bang around in my head a long time after. So I enjoy trying to figure out what works best for us, like where can we improve? Where can we play players that’s going to give us a better chance? I think personnel has to do with that too. You know, someone could have a game where they change your perspective, right? You might have been trying him [in that position] but you weren’t sure it was gonna completely work, but because he takes on some responsibility or initiative, it changes the way you might set up your team too.
John: What’s your favourite thing about the soccer season?
Mac: I don’t know if I have a favourite thing, [but] I love seeing improvement, I think that’s what I love to see. I love to see where we are in the beginning and where we are in the end, not just as a team but also individually. I love to see that kind of progression; so my favourite thing would be sort of like gauging that progression and making sure we are continuing to progress rather than plateau or stagnate.
John: And as [your players, we] can see that. Like for example, you know that you’re improving because we can see from, sometimes, your attitude
Mac: [Laughter] Yeah, for better or for worse, right? For better or for worse.
Picture Credit: TheDanx on Reddit
John: Do you support any football (soccer) teams?
Mac: Arsenal, unfortunately.
Mac: And that’s a key term, unfortunately.
John: When did you start supporting [Arsenal], during their glory days (around the turn of the century)?
Mac: Yes and no. I was given two shirts when I was young, an Aston Villa shirt and an Arsenal shirt. I didn’t really watch a lot of football (soccer) when I was in high school. I really started watching after I graduated. Those were the two teams I kind of gravitated towards, and then that was also, you know, not too long after that, the invincibles (Arsenal team undefeated in the 2003-04 Premier League season) came around. It was an exciting team to watch.
John: What’s your favourite moment of Arsenal?
Mac: Of Arsenal? Wow. I mean the invincible year was the best; I think it’s pretty spectacular.
John: I can only imagine the hype around it.
Mac: But you’ve seen [the highlights], you’ve seen stuff. I don’t think I have a favourite moment because, you know, I’m still a fan miles and miles away. But I really enjoyed watching [Cesc] Fàbregas play when he was younger, he was fun to watch.
John: If you could have dinner with one player, who would it be?
Mac: Huh, one player? It depends [on] what kind of dinner we are having. [Laughter]
John: Just sitting at a table and chatting.
Mac: Like just chatting and stuff? You know what, I didn’t really follow [them as players], but now, I’d be more interested to talk to someone like Pep [Guardiola] or [Jurgen] Klopp.
Picture Credit: mcfcwatch.com
John: Because you’re looking from the coach’s perspective.
Mac: Yeah, I’d much rather have a conversation with one of those two than a player.
John: What about your favourite Arsenal player right now?
Mac: I have big hopes for [Rob] Holding. I [also] like [Mattéo] Guendouzi because he looks like a big prospect.
John: He has the fight in him.
Mac: Yeah, I like it!.I [also] like [Héctor] Bellerin. Yeah, I like how he handles himself on and off the pitch.
John: All your favourite players are coming back [from injury]! I think you guys could do really well this season.
Mac: Yeah, I hope so!
John: And [Kieran] Tierney too!
Mac: Yeah and he looks like he’s a good one too.
John: You guys could have a solid backline.
Mac: Yeah, maybe, for once in a while! [Laughter]
John: For once in a while! [Laughter]
John: We’re down to the last question.
Mac: Okay, fire away.
John: What do we think of Tottenham?
Mac: [Laughter] What’s the chant again?
Picture Credit: Canada Soccer