The honor could not have gone to a more humble and hard-working man.
The tireless leader of the Saint Ignatius soccer program, Mike McLaughlin '85, has been named the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Boys Soccer Coach of the Year, bestowed by USA TODAY.
McLaughlin guided the Wildcats to the program's eighth Division I State Championship last fall, the program's third in a row, becoming the first Ohio coach to accomplish the feat. Under the guidance of McLaughlin, the Wildcats won their second straight national title.
McLaughlin, who serves as the Chairman of the Theology Department and the Sophomore Service Director, helped the Soccer Cats extend their program-record unbeaten streak to 59 games. The Wildcats roared to a 21-0-2 record in 2016, defeating the best teams in the state and competing against some of the best in the country.
“It’s really hard to win one title, even more difficult to win two in a row and no team in Ohio ever won three in a row,” McLaughlin told USA TODAY. “We began the season as the No. 1 team in the state and country, and we finished the season No. 1. That’s a really difficult thing to do.”
McLaughlin's award is a long time coming, however, not simply the product of one excellent season. The dedicated Ignatian returned to his alma mater in 1992 soon after graduating from Quincy College. McLaughlin has served as head soccer coach since 1995 and built a dominant program at the corner of West 30th and Lorain. His career record is an amazing 374-46-46.
As McLaughlin will tell you, he's been blessed with some incredible athletes over the years. Players such as Stephen Milhoan '17, a Xavier-bound student-athlete, have helped McLaughlin earn this accolade and many others. But as many longtime Ignatians will tell you, this honor is well deserved and hard-earned.
"I couldn't be more proud of Mike," said Athletic Director Rory Fitzpatrick '88. "Mike is a special coach, but an even better man. We're blessed to have him at Saint Ignatius, teaching our young men and setting a great example. While he is not in it for awards, I am so happy that his hard work and dedication can be rewarded with such a great honor."
McLaughlin's success has certainly not gone unnoticed at Wildcat High by his peers or students. A member of the Saint Ignatius Athletic Hall of Fame, McLaughlin will have a field named after him at Saint Ignatius.
Two newly turfed fields will be opened in late fall south of Lorain Avenue, one named Kyle Field (in honor of Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle '69) and the other McLaughlin Field (or "The Mac" for short). The field will be used for soccer in the fall and lacrosse in the spring.
Congratulations again to Coach McLaughlin, one of the finest Ignatian men you'll ever meet.