Coach’s Corner: Paul McGinlay

Photo by Martina Almeida

It’s been a historic year for the head coach of men’s soccer Paul McGinlay, who became the 16th men’s soccer coach in any National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) division to earn 500 wins. This year is McGinlay’s 29th season at Trinity, and as the Tigers wrap up their season and head into the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Tournament, McGinlay looked back at his time at Trinity in this edition of Coach’s Corner.

What initially brought you from England over to the United States?

That was 33 years ago, and I finished my undergraduate education at the University of London. Every summer I would come across to Long Island [New York], and during my undergraduate years worked at the youth soccer camps in Long Island. After I graduated, I decided that I wanted to move permanently, to the United States for further education. I started a master’s degree in Ohio in 1987 while attending the College of Wooster for four years as the assistant soccer coach. After that, I was hired by Trinity in 1991, 29 years ago, to be their first full-time head coach.

Did you ever think you would spend 29 years at Trinity?

I can safely and accurately say that I never thought the rest of my life would be spent at Trinity. I never thought back then that that would have happened. I saw this maybe as an experience to cut my teeth as a head coach and then likely move on to another institution, as most people would likely think at that stage in their career.

What’s been your favorite part about staying in one place for so long?

I think it helps being a creature of habit. I’m quite content with normality versus going out on a limb and taking chances maybe at other institutions. I’ve been really content with what Trinity has offered me and I feel that with the success of our program over the last three decades, it’s been a fantastic relationship.

Was it strange at first seeing head women’s soccer coach Dylan Harrison as a colleague after having him as a player?

No, totally normal really because it wasn’t like he went straight from being a player to being a coach. It’s entirely normal to see him as an adult, but it’s also very heartwarming to remember him as a player and a youngster, [to] remember him as a college athlete and a captain. [Now he’s] married with a kid and a head coach at his alma mater, [which] is a thrill for me.

If you could pick any current professional soccer player to build a team around, who would you choose and why?

Easiest question you could ever ask me: Andre Iniesta. I think he’s the complete soccer player. He’s a fantastic person, he’s gone through a lot of adversity as a player, [and] he scored the winning goal in the World Cup final to have his Spanish team win the World Cup for the first time in 2010. The way that he plays the game — he’s a magician with the ball — he makes great decisions as a player. My players would tell you the same thing. I just adore everything about Andres Iniesta.

What’s something you wish people knew about soccer that may not be seen by casual observers?

The fact that the game is so cerebral where there’s so much going on at any given point in time. The special players are the ones that make the best decisions, and when you’re watching the game or a fan in the bleachers is watching the game, they can see one player pass the ball from A to B, and it certainly allows the team to keep possession, but it might not be the best possible option given all the different scenarios, and the special players are the ones that are able to make better decisions more often. I’m gonna refer to the philosopher Plato who said, “You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than [in a lifetime] of conversation,” and I 100 percent believe that.

What three people, past or present, would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I would invite, for the soccer portion of the conversation, Andres Iniesta, and the additional three guests would be the three grandparents that I never met. I met my mother’s mother, but when I was born my mother’s father had passed away, and my father’s mother and father had passed away. So it would be the three grandparents I never met and Iniesta.

What would you eat at that dinner?

Shrimp gorgonzola pasta.

If you could tell the world one thing about yourself, what would you say?

The measure of me would be the friendships of the people that are close to me. I judge myself by the level of friends that I have, and I’m so fortunate to have people that I know around me. Friendship is probably the most important aspect to me.