Seamus McFadden: USD’s ageless soccer wonder

The University of San Diego has had an intercollegiate men’s soccer program for 39 seasons. It has had one head coach.

Think about that for a moment.

For that, the university can thank the foresight of Tom Burke for hiring Seamus McFadden to start the program in 1979, and the longevity and work ethic and recruiting prowess and tactical acuity and teaching skill and raw competitiveness and nurturing demeanor of McFadden himself as he nears the conclusion of his 39th, and final, season as head coach.

And a backyard laundry line 4,782 miles away.

McFadden was born in Northern Ireland and grew up on the other side of the border outside Dublin. His father was born in Butte, Montana, the son of Irish immigrants who had come to work the mines, and wanted to retire in the States. His mother was opposed.

“He was always onto my mom about coming, and she was always saying, ‘No, I’m not going,’” McFadden says. “One day in May, the story goes, she went outside and the laundry was all frozen on the line, like a brick. Got her in a moment of softness.”

In 1969 the family moved to San Diego, where his Uncle Vinny was a priest. McFadden was 17.

A decade later, he was hired to build a USD program from scratch that became a necessity when the school elevated its basketball team to NCAA Division I status and needed a certain number of other sports. Thirty-nine years after that, he’s still there.

Sunday’s 5 p.m. game at Torero Stadium against UCLA has been declared “Seamus McFadden Night” to formally honor him. There are four other games left in the regular season plus, at 7-3-2 and with a six-game unbeaten streak, a possible trip to the NCAA Tournament. Then he and longtime assistant Brian Quinn will flip roles, Quinn becoming head coach and McFadden his assistant until stepping away from the program completely in three years.

“You get to the point where there’s kind of calm that comes over you,” says McFadden, 65. “Sometimes you think that you’re fooling yourself, but I honestly, unequivocally feel that it’s Brian’s opportunity. Brian’s been an incredible assistant for me. It’s his time. It’s his opportunity to shine now. It’s his gig now.

“I’ll just be here to facilitate, to help him.”

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