NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Garrett McLaughlin has proven you can go home again…and again.
McLaughlin was a four-year starter for the Lipscomb men’s soccer team from 2007-2011. He also served as a volunteer assistant and was an integral part of the 2014 championship team which won the ASUN Conference regular season title.
He has returned to Lipscomb as a full-time assistant under head coach Charles Morrow.
“First and foremost I know Garrett loves Lipscomb and wanted to be here,” Morrow said. “With him being an insider definitely helped, but that’s not why we hired him. We are focused on doing the things we need to do to take the next step as a program and I feel that hiring Garrett was a no-brainer.
“Knowing Garrett in coaching roles, he is extremely positive and that is something that is attractive to me and I know the guys respond to that well. Being able to instruct and lead a team while doing it in a positive way is important because it is easy to go negative. He has a clear vision of how I want to play and what it should look like.”
McLaughlin made the move to Lipscomb after a one-year stint in the Big East Conference at Xavier as an assistant.
“It feels great to be back,” McLaughlin said. “I have a lot of passion and love for this place. This is my third go-around here. First as a player, then as a volunteer and now as an assistant. I am glad to be back.”
Another aspect of Morrow’s decision was McLaughlin’s dedication to the game of soccer and his willingness to always be learning about the game.
“Another big reason for hiring Garrett is that he is a lifelong learner and that really came out in the interview,” Morrow said. “He takes that very seriously. He is constantly striving to learn more whether that is reading or seeking out different information on leadership and playing styles. He just tries to grow himself as a coach. Those are the two aspects of Garrett that really stood out when searching for a new assistant.”
McLaughlin has always been a supporter of the Lipscomb soccer program, but the success of the 2016 team made the decision to make a career change even more enticing.
“Xavier is a great program and I really enjoyed my time there,” McLaughlin said. “But Lipscomb had a draw that it’s just a special place that is important to me.
“They had a great year last year and have a lot of great players returning, so there is tons of potential to do something here that has never been done before.”
McLaughlin is anxious to help take the program to the next level as he hits the recruiting trail.
“Another key for me is the recruiting aspect,” McLaughlin said. “With me being a Lipscomb guy, I feel it will really help me in recruiting the right people to this campus. I think that helped differentiate me from the other candidates and it should be a big bonus.
“I want to help continue the success that Charles has built here. I think going off to a major program and a big conference really helped me learn a lot. I think I can bring those pieces here and help Lipscomb continue to grow and build into a contender.”
McLaughlin was known as a tough, hard-nosed defender at Lipscomb. Morrow appreciates McLaughlin’s emphasis on the defensive side of the game and he expects McLaughlin to help the Bisons improve in that area.
“Garrett is more of a defensive-minded coach,” Morrow said. “Coming from a program like Xavier, he knows how to play good defense. If you had to put our program into one of the two categories, I think we are more of an offensive, attacking-minded team. So I really think that Garrett brings a good mix with his defensive approach.
“Thankfully we got him here during the spring. Because there will be a time where he and I are trying to feel each other out in terms of finding the correct balance. But I really do feel long-term this has the potential to be a really, really good pairing.”
Morrow views the addition of McLaughlin as the “right person at the right time for the job”.
“The fact is that we have a relationship and we can differ on opinions and we aren’t worried about hurting each other’s feelings,” Morrow said. There is no feeling out period in terms of jumping right in and really attacking the areas that we feel need to be addressed this spring to really help us grow into the team we want to be in the future.”
In his four years as a student-athlete McLaughlin played in 72 matches for the Bisons, and set a then program record with 19 starts as a freshman in 2007.
When the time came to hang up his boots, the Belton, Texas native had racked up 10 goals and eight assists as a Bison, including a career best five-goal, four-assist season as a senior.
McLaughlin is thankful to be back where it all began, with the Purple and Gold.
“I really want to thank Charles and Philip for giving me this opportunity,” McLaughlin said. “It feels great to be home.”