Damian Macias’s goal is simple.
“I just want to have fun.”
The former assistant coach at the University of North Dakota was introduced as the fourth head coach in Griffon soccer history. The hiring adds certainty to a very tumultuous offseason for the program.
After beloved longtime head coach Chad Edwards left the program to pursue a career in aviation, the search for his replacement was not easy. The school hired Alex Avila in July, but he resigned a month later citing health concerns amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This left the Griffons scrambling once again. They finally landed on Macias, who will have all winter to develop a good relationship with the team.
Athletic Director Dr. Josh Looney says that Macias is very ready to be a head coach for the first time.
“Usually when you hire a first-time head coach, they don’t have 20 plus years of experience,” Looney said. “We’re kind of getting the best of both worlds.”
Macias’s 20 plus years of experience has come from all over the world. As a military husband, he has traveled the world, going to places like Germany and Japan.
Looney said that everywhere Macias went, he found one constant.
“Most people will find a job that is stable throughout the move,” Looney said. “Every time he had to move, he was hungry to stay involved with soccer.”
Players met their new head coach on Thursday, and all of them walked away with confidence and satisfaction. Throughout the day, there was one key word that became a theme of the team: positivity.
Senior MacKenzie O’Neill says that keeping positivity has been a necessity despite the uncertain future of the program.
“The biggest thing has just been keeping the motivation and keeping the positivity,” O’Neill said. “We really took this as an opportunity to get to know one another, get to be there for one another.”
With the fall season being cancelled and having no word on a potential spring season as of yet, the players have had no choice but to continue practicing and working as if they are going to get a season. With no coach for the past month, the players themselves would put together practices on their own. Still, the lack of certainty is something that the players think about, especially the nine seniors.
Senior Lillian Davis echoed all the seniors' thoughts.
“I just want to play,” Davis said. “I just really want to play some games and finish out my athletic career on a good note.”
One bonus that the Griffons will have going into this next season will be their chemistry. The team didn’t graduate a single player last year, so the players will be much more acclimated to playing with one another.
Davis says that their chemistry and relationship helps them brace all of the changes that this offseason has brought.
“We’ve had so many unknowns since March,” Davis said. “We’ve just been handling it one step at a time.”
As for any expectations this season, there really aren’t any. With the uncertainty that still looms large, along with a new coach, there is no number or label on what will be considered a successful season.
Looney says that he believes the talent and leadership is there to bring the Griffons back to the top of the MIAA conference.
“I think we’ve got a team that’s hungry to prove themselves,” Looney said.