U SPORTS sits down with one key athlete, coach, and staff member of each U SPORTS athletic program in our interview series “Getting to know…”
- Name: Matt McLean
- School: Bishop’s University
- Sport: Men’s basketball
- Position: Lead assistant coach
- Seniority: Third Season
- Previous school/position: Head coach, Champlain-Lennoxville Cougars
- Hometown: Ottawa, Ont.
1. How did you first get involved in coaching? What was your path to your position with the Bishop’s Gaiters?
It wasn’t until my fifth and final year of playing university basketball with Bishop’s that I knew I wanted to make a career out of my passion. It had always been a main component of my life and at that point with the help of some people close to me I realized it didn’t have to end there. Once I finished at Bishop’s I began training to play professionally.
Later that year, I was drafted to a top team in the National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC) in London, Ont., shortly after I was cut from the team. After a few months of working retail in a mall while recovering from knee surgery, I decided I wanted to get into coaching. When I reached out to my former head coach Rod Gilpin, he agreed to have me on staff and we’ve been working together for the past three seasons.
2. Who are the people that have influenced you most as a coach?
Definitely, my biggest influence are my parents. The values they were able to instill in me are the same values I will pass down to our players.
Currently our head coach Rod Gilpin has had a huge impact on my development as a coach. He has given me opportunities and responsibilities within our program, which allow me to learn from my mistakes at a high level. I’ve been fortunate to have been coached by some great coaches growing up which influenced the way I coach and the way I played. My former high school coach Ian Mackinnon, playing for the Ottawa Guardsmen coaches (Carleton assistants, as well as Dave Smart) had a huge impact on the way I think about the game. More recently, at Bishop’s I am fortunate to be exposed to great basketball minds with more than impressive careers. It’s special being able to talk basketball on campus with guys who were almost all coaching before I was even alive like Rod Gilpin, Craig Norman, Eddie Pomykala, Steve Dunn and Steve Cassivi. Lastly, I am always talking ball with close friend Diego Hernandez Garcia who coaches in Spain.
3. How would you describe your coaching style?
My coaching style is about honesty and respect. Being clear about expectations and goals from the beginning both from a team and player’s perspective and holding myself and our guys accountable to those expectations and goals.
4. Which coach do you admire the most, and why?
I have great respect for Ian Mackinnon who coached me for years growing up. He is an extremely knowledgeable coach and has taught me so much about the sport. Reflecting back on the amount of hours and years he volunteered towards my development and how big an impact he’s had on me as a person reminds me how impactful we can be as coaches.
5. What is your greatest coaching moment or achievement?
Seeing players grow as people, graduate and follow their passions. Thankfully the Bishop’s experience allows this to happen more often than not.
6. What’s the best advice you can give to an athlete and/or athlete’s parents?
Be early and do your job.
7. How have you changed as a coach over time? What principles/values, etc. have remained the same?
My core principles have remained and always will.
There’s so much to learn, every time I’m able to attend a clinic or watch a practice or have a conversation there’s details to be learnt from and potentially brought back to my teams.
8. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not in coaching mode?
Share experiences with friends and family.