Trinity Soccer's Turning Point

Soccer in USA<br />

The year 1991 was a particularly impactful for both the men’s and women’s soccer teams at Trinity University. Prior to 1991, both the men’s and women’s programs at Trinity were mediocre programs in relation to how the standards they now hold themselves to nearly 30 years later. Between 1980 and 1990, the Men’s program had a .476 winning percentage, while the women were similar with a .438 winning percentage, two below .500 percentages. During a similar time period, the average attendance for both the men and women was right around 100 fans per game. The lack of success in both programs was a product of a variety of components. Most significantly, neither program had a fulltime head coach, designated soccer field, or full support from the athletic department at Trinity. However, in 1991 this all changed, as Trinity decided to hire two full time coaches. Why might Trinity have chosen this time to hire full time coaches at this time? They seemed to be content with the current situation of the programs in the ten years of consistent results prior? Trinity, like other institutions at the time sensed the rising soccer culture that emerged prior to and after the success of the United States Women’s National team at the World Cup in 1991. Momentum for the soccer craze was only growing as the United Sates was set to host the Men’s World Cup in 1994. This movement of soccer in America, was a major contribution to the hiring of two full time head coaches for the men’s and women’s programs.

Paul McGinlay, a native of London was hired as the head coach of Trinity’s Men’s Soccer program in the summer of 1991. He had experience playing professionally in the U.S. and coaching at the College of Worchester in Ohio. He brought the program credibility, dedication, and ultimately success. It took McGinlay little time to get the program going in the right direction, winning 13 games in his first season. He was also able to double the attendance within just one year improving the attendance per game to 203. This was a result of the teams improved success from the year prior, allowing students to get more behind the team. Students as a whole, were likely more enthusiastic about soccer due to the upcoming World Cup.

Nick Cowell, was hired as the head coach for the women’s program. Nick was an assistant alongside Coach McGinlay at the College of Worchester. The two natives of the UK decided to take on separate challenges at the same institution in San Antonio. While Coach McGinlay, had success in his first year, Coach Cowell was equally impressive early in his carrier with the Tigers. In an interview with Coach McGinlay, he mentioned how important it was that the program hired the right man for the job when he said, “It was a critical time for the program, so many young girls were really becoming enthusiastic about soccer. Having the ability to hire someone as qualified and smart as Nick, it really gave Trinity an advantage going into a truly golden age of talent coming out of high school, that this nation or the world had seen before.” Cowell in his first season lead the tigers to 15 wins, 7 more than the year prior. While the men’s team still averaged around 200 fans, the women were able to exceed that margin on average and were able to score more goals over the course of the season as well. Legendary coach of the Tigers, Lance Key, had many things to say about the 1991 appointment of Cowell saying, “It was the turning point for our athletics’ department here at Trinity, the success of Trinity’s program in the early 1990’s lead for more opportunities for female athletes and programs, it seemed like the university began to take women’s teams more seriously…you can likely attribute some of that to the success of the women’s national team in China”.  The youth participation grew 15% in female soccer players between 1980 and 1990, this meant that more girls were playing and more reached playing at a higher level. This resulted in Trinity and other universities to be more selective in their recruiting process, which evidently lead to more success for the programs who were able to attract top players.