The men’s soccer team was the first Sports team I covered for The Point News as a staff writer in Fall 2009, making Coach Gainey the first St. Mary’s coach I met on a level higher than an acquaintance. The team stood 2-4 at the time, and had lost their only conference game of the season as the large number of first-year and sophomore athletes grew accustomed to College-level playing.
Despite the stresses of a difficult season kick-off, Coach Gainey was perfectly down-to-earth during my interview with him, and was really easy-going and helpful, even directing athletes in my direction during the team’s practice for more information for my article.
As I’ve interviewed him throughout the semesters following the first, he’s never failed to put others before himself, and always has been proud of his team in the best and worst turns of the seasons. He was honest and insightful every interview, no matter how the team was doing.
The Sports section of the paper will miss Coach Gainey, and looks forward to continuing coverage of his players and the legacy he’s leaving with them.
Question: What brought you to St. Mary’s College?
Answer: I started at St. Mary’s in winter of 1997 as an assistant coach working with Eric Wagner, the then current coach. I was introduced to Eric by Rich Edgar, the Director of Admissions and one of my best friends. When Eric decided to go to Swarthmore to become the Head Coach, the opening of a lifetime was there for me. I had dreamed since the age of 19 of becoming a college soccer coach, but always thought it could never happen. At the time I had a great career doing Information Technology Management work at the Naval Base, and thought I could never walk away from that, but I did. I couldn’t pass up my one shot at my dream.
Q: What was your first season like as a coach for the Seahawks?
A: My first season was awesome! I had great players that Eric and I had brought into the program and we had just come off of a 14 game winning season. We ended up winning 15 games my first season which was the most games the team had ever won in a year.
Q: What was it like to switch from coaching female players to male players, and do you have a preference for either?
A: I really hadn’t coached girls much prior to taking the job; I had just started coaching girls some time before. Jen Henderson, the head coach at Leonardtown High, got me hooked on coaching girls outside the college level. It is a blast coaching girls and totally different from coaching boys. The girls absorb information better and try to apply it better in my opinion. The game is a little different, but coaching girls that can play the game is great!
Q: What made you start to think about retirement?
A: I always promised myself that when the game became too much of a job, or I started to lose my passion for the game or I wasn’t getting it done on the field that I would walk away. It has been almost 32 years of coaching soccer at all levels short of professional. I am just tired, to be honest.
Q: What are your plans once you leave St. Mary’s?
A: I am working back at my old job for the most part at Patuxent River Naval Air Station doing ITM work again. I hope to work with the College on a volunteer basis on committees and really want to work to get a new stadium built at the college.
Q: If there is one thing you could change about your coaching career at SMCM, what would it be?
A: I wanted to win a CAC championship in the worst way and we were close three different times, and I just didn’t get that done. I made a mistake recruiting one year and it bit us for three years. I would certainly change that.
Q: Is there a final message you’d like to leave for the men’s soccer team?
A: I hope each player realizes what they really have at the College and in their team. They are creating memories that will last forever and growing as quality young men. I truly love them and can’t wait to see what they do in their lives. I hope they will consider me their friend for life!
Final Comments: I would also like to say thanks to Rich Edgar and Scott Devine for giving me the chance to live my dream. To the rest of the Athletic Department, it has been awesome! I will miss everyone.