Longtime Midland Coach Rich McGill Honored with Alumni Day

Longtime Midland Coach Rich McGill Honored with Alumni Day

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

He hasn’t coached a basketball game at Midland University for ten years, but Rich McGill continues to make an impact on the Warrior men’s program.

McGill was honored by the program on December 4th with Rich McGill Alumni Day. 

His 30-year run as head coach at Midland featured more than 300 wins. McGill also guided two squads (1990 and 2000) to the NAIA National Tournament. Following his retirement in 2011, McGill was inducted into the Warrior Athletic Hall of Fame. McGill has spent most of his retirement years as an adjunct instructor at Midland and maintains a close relationship with the Warrior basketball program.

It’s never been about wins, losses, accolades, and achievements for McGill. It’s about the people he’s coached and met along the way that have kept him coming back to the place he’s called home for 40 years.

“I still love the game, and I would coach tomorrow if I didn’t have to get on a bus or recruit,” McGill said. “The most important thing has always been the relationships you develop. I’ve always enjoyed watching young people work toward a common goal.”

In his seventh season, current Midland Coach Oliver Drake says McGill’s perspective on basketball and life is a value that endears him to coaches and players. “We all struggle in competitive environments, and Rich is always able to bring in that perspective,” Drake said. “He will talk about things in the right light when it comes to what is important in life, whether that involves basketball, being a good husband and father, or life itself. He always talks about the relationship piece of coaching and at the end of the day, that’s all any coach has.”

Drake values the relationship he has built with McGill. Whether it’s coaching advice, navigating ups and downs of the season, or working through everyday struggles, Drake knows he always has a listening ear to talk to. “He never stops coaching, and that’s what great coaches do,” Drake said. “I bounce things off of him, and he’s always willing to share his experiences. But what makes Coach McGill so great is that he’s egoless. He’s the first one in here with a smile on his face after a great performance, and no one enjoys seeing other people succeed more than Coach McGill. You never hear him talk about himself; it’s always about the players and the program.”

After several coaching steps in his early years, McGill had no visions that Midland and the Fremont community would become a permanent home. “My wife and I moved five times the first ten years we were married, so I never guessed I would be coaching somewhere for 30 years. Fremont has been a great place to raise a family, and I was so fortunate to have so many other great coaches around me at Midland like Don Watchorn, Joanne Bracker, Jim McMahon, Doug Hartman, and many others. Those people weren’t only great coaches, but they were great teachers and advisors. They were people who cared and gave much of their lives to Midland and its students.”

When McGill stepped away from coaching in 2011, he maintained his relationship with the program through coaches Todd Eisner and Drake. He’s a regular at most Midland home games and will make a handful of road trips each season as well. It’s also not uncommon for him to stop by a practice and lend a watchful eye. “Todd and Oliver went out of their way to make me feel welcome,” he said. “They’ve let me hang around practice, and I’ve never felt uncomfortable being around the program.”

McGill’s impact as a coach and mentor has reached far beyond the walls of Midland University. Numerous players during his 30 years went on to become coaches themselves, both at the collegiate and high school levels. “Midland has been fortunate to have turned out a lot of great kids over the years,” he said. “Getting to follow the careers of guys who I coached or other students I taught or advised has been very special to me. Looking back, I would like to have won more games, but I wouldn’t have done it with any other type of kid than what I got to coach.”

His role in athletics has continued through his work as an official starter at numerous track and field meets over the years, as well as his work evaluating high school football officials. He was recently honored with an Outstanding Service Award from the Nebraska School Activities Association for his work with officials.

Drake says it was an honor for the current version of the Warriors to recognize McGill’s great accomplishments. “We are proud to make Rich’s name relevant in our program’s history,” Drake said. “There are so many great alumni that Rich had an impact on, and this was a great way to recognize what he’s done for them, both personally and professionally.”