Brian McManus of UCSD Women’s Soccer on His Career and the Growth of Women’s Soccer
One of America’s most inspirational college coaches, Brian McManus, is entering his milestone 30th season with the UC San Diego Women’s Soccer. McManus took over the program in 1987 for an interim 3-month period, and has stayed three decades — earning a remarkable career record of 465-85-51 and finishing last season making history with the most wins in NCAA Division II women’s soccer.
McManus has led UCSD to seven national championships, with five at the NCAA Division III level and capturing back-to-back Division II NCAA National Championships.
A Living Legend: According to the UCSD Triton, McManus is often referred to as one of the greatest women’s soccer coaches at any collegiate level. McManus has compiled the 10th-highest win percentage in NCAA women’s soccer history at .816 through 2015. He is tied for fourth among all divisions in wins, fourth in all-time win percentage in Division II history, and third in win percentage among active Division II coaches. McManus has coached over 250 student-athletes at UCSD, including 36 All-Americans, 40 NSCAA All-West Region members and two Triton Hall of Famers.
Felicia Kappes on Brian McManus: There are so many factors that define Brian’s legendary career, of course the obvious is his unprecedented success in both Division 111 and 11 and his longevity at UCSD, but I believe in my heart what makes his career so special is how his player’s feel about him and the program he has built. His players all leave UCSD appreciating the legacy and tradition they were a part of. He is a true “players coach” who fosters a deep feeling of loyalty. Brian has shown over and over again the special ability to bring out the very best in every player that comes through his program. Every player who plays for him not only becomes a better player but even more importantly a better person.
Simply put — I just love how much fun Brian makes playing this great sport,” says Kappes.
UCSD Men’s Head Coach Jon Pascale on Brian McManus: Having the opportunity to watch Brian work has been amazing. He has accomplished — and still is accomplishing — what all coaches are trying to do with their programs. Its not just the endless national and conference championships he has won but the sense of pride and community he has established with his players, parents and alumni. It is most evident during homecoming when 30-40 former players show up to play and the stands are filled with their families rooting them on as if they were currently on the team. It is clear that after 30 years, it is these relationships that he values most.
SoccerToday’s Diane Scavuzzo spoke with McManus at the 2016 Surf Cup Finals about his lasting legacy and the growth of women’s soccer in the United States. Here is our exclusive interview:
Diane Scavuzzo: First of all, congratulations. What have the last 30 years meant to you?
Brian McManus: A lot of fun — that’s for sure. It’s been about meeting incredible kids. That’s the only reasoning I think I keep doing it – for the kids that keep coming in.
Diane Scavuzzo: Have the kids coming into the program changed over the years?
Brian McManus: No. It’s amazing how the soccer skills today have developed a lot more yet the players coming in are the same type of kids — with the same type of personality.
Diane Scavuzzo: What type of personality?
Brian McManus: People who have fun and a little bit of a digging bite. People who have real personality, make a difference and are leaders in their own way.
Diane Scavuzzo: Sound like every player has been important to you … not just the ones that were the impact player or your starting line up?
Brian McManus: Oh, yes. Every player on our team is important. We have had players over the years who were lucky to play 10 minutes in a game, but off the field were incredible for the team and our UCSD program — the kids who lead the team from the bench.
We’ve had players on the bench that are more important than those that started and played.”
They’ve kept the team together in the bad and rough times — and, in the good times, they’ve kept them going and stepped them up.
Diane Scavuzzo: You were working with Derek Armstrong on the UCSD Men’s Soccer program when took over the Triton Women’s Soccer team in 1987. Did you think you would be still running the program 30 years later?
Brian McManus: No, I only took this job for three months — while UCSD looked for a coach. Luckily, I’m still here. Just thinking back to when we first started to now, well, it’s just phenomenal. And, you can’t ask to work at a better place. You’re at UCSD and in La Jolla — it is heaven.
Diane Scavuzzo: Has women’s college soccer changed significantly over the past three decades?
Brian McManus: Yes, the skill level — because off the incredible growth in women’s soccer — has risen tremendously, and fitness levels at college have also increased dramatically with all the new techniques. But, the one thing that has never changed from the first ’87 team until now, is the passion of the players that come to UCSD — their desire to succeed both in the classroom and the field has not changed one bit.
Diane Scavuzzo: Is it harder to become successful now than it was 20 years ago?
Brian McManus: Yes, because the level of play is very top-end.
Obviously, we’re still an academic school. That’s what we’re always going to be. Even though we’re making the move to Division I — the highest level of collegiate athletics — we’re still going to be highly academic. Academics rules the school.
Diane Scavuzzo: You have a very special way of inspiring people — I am sure you have mentored many players over the years.
Brian McManus: I don’t know if I was a mentor to some of them or a pain in the butt.
What I really like about players is letting them play. Don’t over coach or over manage them. They’re coming to me at 17 years old, how can you really change their ways?”
All you can do is give a player a position on the field, get them in better shape and say, “Go and play. Go have fun and enjoy yourself.”
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you think the United States has a lot more to accomplish in women’s soccer?
Brian McManus: Yes, I think the game is going to become much quicker on the women’s side than the men’s side.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think about the gender wage difference?
Brian McManus: The women have brought internationally acclaim to the program and huge amounts of money from the FIFA World Cups, plus all the publicity for the sport …
The women on our national team are fantastic and the gender wage difference is horrendous. The pay should definitely be way higher than it is now.
Diane Scavuzzo: If you could wave a magic wand, what would you do about the wage gap?
Brian McManus: It would be cut drastically, but would it be on par, probably not because of the differences between what World Cups and sponsorship dollars.
The U.S. Soccer Men’s program I love to death. Jurgen Klinsmann is often maligned and I think he’s one of the best coaches the we have ever had. I hope he is strong enough to keep going through all the negative things the U.S. Federation serves up.
Diane Scavuzzo: What about the U.S. Soccer Women’s National team’s head coach, Jill Ellis?
Brian McManus: Jill is tremendous. I hope she goes on for many years as well. I hope she can stand the politics too.
Diane Scavuzzo: What advice would you give the players who are interested in coming to play for you at UCSD?
Brian McManus: Just to come and enjoy yourself. That’s it.
I have two young coaches, Trent Painter and Kristin Jones who graduated UCSD in 2004. Jones, as I call her, played with the program and as soon as she finished, she became a coach — just like Felicia Kappes, who spent two seasons as an assistant coach with me after she graduated from UCSD. Felicia has been around the program for years.
Felicia Kappes on Brian McManus: If I was a Division I coach I would be concerned with UCSD’s move to a Division I athletic program — with a full allotment of athletic scholarships to compete against all the biggest programs and high profile conferences like the Big West, WCC, Mountain West and PAC12 … I have always said Brian is one of the best coaches in the country and now he gets to finish his career with a terrific new challenge. I have no doubt he will do well. As we always say … “Here’s to it Brian!!”
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