by Gordon Nary
Gordon: When did you attend The Catholic University of America, what degree did you earn?
Mike: I attended The Catholic University of America from 1989-1992. I earned a BA in Politics and a minor in Philosophy. I choose Catholic U because I wanted to play football and I was hoping to go to work for a Think Tank in DC, so it was a great fit for those goals. I concentrated in World Politics at CUA and spent much of my studies learning about National Defense Strategies, especially in relation to US-Soviet relations. However, while still at Catholic U, the Soviet Union ceased to be and most of my knowledge went from being Current Events to History. Looking at Russia today, I see so many parallels to Soviet attempts hegemony that I feel as though If I was to switch careers and try to be an analyst, I should be able to apply a lot of what I learned while at CUA.
Gordon: What was your favorite course, and why was it your favorite?
Mike: My favorite class was Politics and Military Strategy taught by Professor Wallace Thies. It was an incredible class and I would fill an entire notebook about every 3 sessions. Professor Thies was extremely knowledgeable and we spent much of our time comparing the effectiveness of Massive Retaliation vs. Containment as national defense strategies. I really enjoyed that.
Gordon: When did you attend University of La Verne, what degree did you earn, and what is one of your favorite memories when you were there?
Mike: I attended the University of La Verne 1999-2001 and I earned a Med specializing in Athletic Educational Issues. While I was there I was coach and working on my Masters degree. My wife and I had to life a good bit away from the University. The parish we attended was in Rancho Cucamonga and it was Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It was an older parish that was full of primarily Spanish speaking parishioners. One of my favorite memories from my time there was the Eucharistic procession on the Feast of Corpus Christi with a full Mariachi band joining us as we processed around the church grounds.
Gordon: Where were you Assistant Football Coach at St. Norbert College, what was your favorite game, and why was it your favorite?
Mike: At St. Norbert College in DePere, WI, I began as the Offensive Line coach, but eventually moved to be the Defensive Coordinator. My favorite game during that stretch was probably the game vs Knox College in 1997 (I think it was ’97). It was played through torrential downpour and the field became such a quagmire that guys started losing their cleats in the mud. We couldn’t see field lines or jersey numbers. We lost the game in a close contest but with everyone playing on turf now, this game has become a good memory for me.
Gordon: When were you Assistant Football Coach at University of La Verne and what were your primary responsibilities?
Mike: At La Verne I coached the defensive line, coordinated the video and handled a lot of the day to day office duties.
Gordon: When were you Assistant Coach at Wingate University and what sports did you coach?
Mike: I was an assistant coach at Wingate for the 2001 & 2002 football seasons. I coached at Wingate, but since it was not a full-time coaching position I had to teach at the local middle school as well. It was ta East Union Middle School in Marshville, NC where I got to know Mr. Larry Stinson who was our principal. Much of my leadership style has come from observing him run a school that needed a very firm hand to keep it moving in a positive direction.
Gordon: When were you Assistant Head Coach, Defensive Coordinator at Concord University and what was your favorite part of living in West Virginia?
Mike: I was at Concord University from early 2003 until May of 2009. West Virginia was a beautiful state and I really loved the yard we had. My family and I had 2 beagles at that point and they were almost impossible to keep in the yard because our property butted up to a true blue West Virgina Holler that all kinds of wildlife in it. Those two hounds would jailbreak through our fence and you could hear their baying barks echoing off of the hillsides. We always managed to get them back, but sometimes it could take a week to track them down – always the worse for wear from their big escapades.
Gordon: When did you serve as Assistant Head Coach, Defensive Coordinator at Lindsey Wilson College and what are the responsibilities of a Defensive Coordinator?
Mike: I was hired at LWC in May of 2009. We were beginning the football program from scratch. It was an incredible experience. I was the Asst HC/Defensive Coordinator there and it was a very challenging process to build a program from the ground up. As the DC I was basically the head coach for the defense. I made the calls, created the game plans and ran quality control for all of the defensive position groups.
Gordon: When were you appointed Head Football Coach at The CatholicUniversity of America and what is your favorite game to date, and why is it your favorite?
Mike: I was hired in December of 2016 to be the Head Coach at CUA and it has been fantastic to work on building the program during that time. If I had to pick my favorite game so far here at Catholic I would probably pick my first win. We beat Utica in a very close contest at home. It was a very special day for me. My dad and one of my brothers were able to be at the game to see my first win. It was very moving to have him see that moment in my career. My head coach from Lindsey Wilson was able to catch the game as well because they had a bye that Saturday. It was a great day all around.
Gordon: What are the signs of Concussion in football players?
Mike: The symptoms of concussion are varied but typically a player will have some of these symptoms: • Amnesia. • Confusion. • Headache. • Loss of consciousness. • Balance problems or dizziness. • Double or fuzzy vision. • Sensitivity to light or noise. • Nausea (feeling that you might vomit). • Feeling sluggish, foggy or groggy. • Feeling unusually irritable. • Concentration or memory problems (forgetting game plays, facts, meeting times). • Slowed reaction time. We follow the NCAA Sport Science Institutes guidelines and as a coach I stay out of our Sports Medicine professionals’ way. However, coaches do need to know the signs and symptoms so that we can be sure to pull guys out of play right away.
Gordon: What do you do to prevent concussion in your team members?
Mike: We put the best protective head gear that we can on our guys and we have tracking equipment in the helmets to allow us to track head impacts and their intensity. Our guys wear Guardian Caps at every practice and we also spend significant time at practice ensuring that we have instructed our players on how to best keep their head out of the game. Player safety is always my number priority.
Gordon: Thanks for a great interview.