BERKELEY – Neil McGuire is about to enter his eighth season as Cal’s women’s soccer head coach. McGuire arrived in Berkeley in 2007, and has since led Cal to seven consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and owns an 84-46-17 overall record. Despite graduating 10 seniors, McGuire will lead the Golden Bears into their 2014 campaign with a squad that includes a recruiting class touted as top five in the nation by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
With the season right around the corner, McGuire sat down with CalBears.com for this week’s Coaches Corner.
CalBears.com: What is the most rewarding part of being a college coach?
Neil McGuire: Seeing our players graduate. The sport itself is fun and we are all motivated to be successful on the field, but to see our players reach their goals academically so we know they are prepared for their respective careers is something that is a fun part of the job.
CB: If you could leave your athletes with one piece of advice, what would it be?
NM: The one piece of advice I would give any graduate is to be prepared to work hard. College athletics provides them a certain benefit that not every student at a university gets. When they go into the workforce, they are going to be just like everyone else and will have to prove their worth. So they need to be prepared to work hard.
CB: What is the biggest highlight of your coaching career?
NM: There are a number of those and they range from seeing a player that has had significant injuries and then gets her first start in a game. Lorin Hom had three ACL tears, and to see her start a game against Oregon last year was a really big deal. When you see players who struggle but then have great success -- whatever format that takes -- those are probably some of the more rewarding moments. When it comes to win ands losses, the win against Stanford last year was a big deal for the team. It gave them confidence and reason to believe they could be very successful. But most importantly, to see the success of the individual when they had challenges, faced them and won those battles.
CB: What do you think the underclassmen will bring to the program?
NM: The freshman class has tremendous energy, excitement and enthusiasm. They are very good players and they get a long well with everybody, and that energy will be a good thing. They recognize that they have a long way to go in terms of development and they are working really hard, which I think has earned the respect of the older players. I am excited about what they bring, both this year and in the future.
CB: What are you most looking forward to this season?
NM: I think we are all most looking forward to the challenge. I don’t think anyone expects us -- after losing such talent and so many seniors -- no one expects us to rebound, which we are not even talking about. We are going to take it one game at a time, but we believe that we have the ability and the mentality to be a very strong team this year.
Catch the Golden Bears in action when they face San Francisco in their season opener on Friday, August 22 at 5 p.m. on Goldman Field at Edwards Stadium.