When John McGillivray started coaching soccer at Cedarville College in 1974, Richard Nixon resigned, Leonardo DiCaprio entered the world, gas cost 55 cents a gallon and Cedarville students paid $30 per credit hour.
Over 40 years and 360 wins later, McGillivray has made a name for himself in Cedarville athletics. But when he’s off the field, he shows his love for others through his servant attitude.
Assistant coach Brianne Barnes has known McGillivray for over eight years. She remembered meeting him during her junior year of high school.
“He seemed like a really nice guy, very grandfatherly, talked a lot, and seemed like someone who had a lot of experience,” she said.
Barnes played for McGillivray from 2006 to 2009 and became a part of his coaching staff in 2011. She said that her relationship with McGillivray has grown over the years.
McGillivray’s greatest strength, according to Barnes, is his love for Christ and how he allows it to affect his life.
“He always wants to do something that will be glorifying to God, and I think that helps him keep his focus on what’s important,” Barnes said.
McGillivray is not one to hide his faith, whether he’s on or off the field.
“You can just see in his life the evidence of Christ,” Barnes said. “Everything he does is filtered through being more Christ-like, even if it’s the littlest thing.”
McGillivray has coached women’s soccer since 1998. Before that, he coached Cedarville’s men’s soccer team for 24 years. Barnes said she thinks McGillivray has been able to coach for over four decades because of his love for other people.
“He really cares about his players, and if you’re able to develop relationships with people, then work isn’t really work, but it’s more something you enjoy,” she said. “I think because he’s loved his players so much over the years, it’s given him the longevity to keep doing it.”
Men’s head soccer coach Brett Faro said something similar about McGillivray.
“He loves the people here, he loves the girls on the team,” Faro said, “and I think they keep him young in a lot of ways.”
One way McGillivray shows his love is by serving others.
“If girls are having car troubles or if they need something fixed, he’s the first person they ask,” Barnes said. “He’s always ready to help. He’ll drop whatever he’s doing to help anybody.”
Faro recalled a story his wife told him about how McGillivray helped her and her friends one night.
“Their washer and dryer broke, and Coach Mac came over at 9:30 at night, like a 20-minute drive from where he lives, and spent probably an hour fixing the washer and dryer for them because they didn’t know how to do it,” Faro said. “And to him it was just what you do. He didn’t think twice about it, he was just over there.”
Sara Rogers, a junior who plays for McGillivray, said she and her teammates don’t view him as just a coach.
“He is such an amazing man,” Rogers said. “He is viewed by a lot of the girls as more of a grandfather because he’s so much older, but he has such a heart for the Lord and such a heart for the team.”
During his time at Cedarville, McGillivray has done more than just coach the soccer team. He’s taught dozens of classes, coached track and, at one time, was even the chair of the department of health and physical education (now the department of kinesiology and allied health). He also traveled with the soccer teams on numerous missions trips to countries around the world, including South Korea, the Ivory Coast and the Dominican Republic.
Despite all these responsibilities, McGillivray has remained energetic at age 68.
“It stems from his love of people and his love of the Lord and his love for what he does,” Faro said. “He’s just a passionate guy, and I think that passion fuels his energy and makes him desire to do a lot.”
One thing that McGillivray said he is passionate about is helping his players mature in their faith.
“If nothing happens in their life in terms of how they grow in Christ,” he said, “then it doesn’t really matter.”
McGillivray said that although he likes to win, that’s not his main goal in every game.
“It’s not all about winning and losing, even though that’s what everybody looks at,” he said. “If you come off the field knowing you’ve honored Christ, you’ve played well, you’re going to be disappointed in loss but what more can you ask for?”
Throughout his coaching career, McGillivray has seen wins, conference championships, and regional and national tournaments, but he said these accomplishments are not his favorite part of the job.
“Wins are nice, but relationships and how God used the experiences that we’ve allowed to happen to shape those young men and young women, those would be the great memories,” he said.
McGillivray said he has been thinking of stepping down from the head coaching position in a few years.
“Somebody asked me, ‘How long are you going to do this?’ I said, ‘Four more (years) if God gives me the health and strength,’” McGillivray said. “He’s given it to me for three, so we’ll pray that he gives it to me for one more, and if he doesn’t, that’s what I’ve trusted him with.”
He said that when he leaves, he doesn’t want his legacy to be about how many wins he’s had or championships he’s won.
“I hope that if there’s any legacy, (it’s) that young men and young women who’ve come through my coaching have prospered and grown as young people to maturity as people and in their walk with Christ.”
Jon Gallardo is a junior journalism major and sports editor for Cedars. He loves playing basketball, listening to August Burns Red and reading Tolkien and Dr. Seuss.