Soccer has been a very important part of the lives of many individuals that have been born on the Burin Peninsula and soccer has played a very important part of the life of Walt Mavin. Surviving these days as a coach can be as much a challenge as what wining a championship is. As I spoke with the coach of the Mount Pearl Challenge Cup entry, I wittnessed that he is generally a very soft spoken individual but also a very dedicated person in succeeding when presented with a challenge.Coach Mavin already has made a very big mark on the history of Mount Pearl soccer when he coached them to their first Challenge Cup Championship in 2003 and now Coach's Corner will share with you a closer look at Walt Mavin.
1. Where were you born and raised?
2. What is your occupation?
Currently employed as a Project Manager with the Department of Human Resources Labour and Employment, Provincial Government.
3. How long have you been involved with the sport of soccer?
Actually this is my 25th year. As a player, I began at a very young age playing in Fortune and when I got older, I played with the: Provincial U-17 Team,Grand Bank Jr.Gee Bees, 1985 NL Canada Games Team, and at MUN. I've been coaching now for the past 10 years, all with the Mount Pearl Soccer Association. I started with a boys under 15 team, and now coach the Mt. Pearl Challenge Cup team and the Mt. Pearl Girls U16 A team. In addition, I coached the Provincial U17 girls teams in 1999 and 2000. For the past 6 years, I have also coached the MUN Ladies Seahawks Team.
4. What is your personal motto that you coach by?
For every team I coach, I try and instill in players to "put the team first and to be responsible to their team".
5. What was your greatest accomplishment as a player?
Covering at the back for Elis Coles when we played together with the Grand Bank Junior team in the early 80's (just kidding Coles). Most of my playing career I played in a central defender/sweeper role so there weren't many highlights in terms of goals. Next to our 5th place finish at the 1985 Canada Games, I would have to say that being part of the Grand Bank team that won the 1981 Provincial Junior Championship at KGV against Holy Cross.
6.What was your greatest disappointment as a player?
Probably not playing competitively after we finished the Canada Games in 1985. I was only 21 at the time and found that the commitment for the two years leading up to the games was so great that I felt I needed a break from the game. Coles has been after me to come back and play with the Mt. Pearl Masters team but coaching is my first priority at this point.
7. What was your greatest accomplishment as a coach?
Without a doubt, being part of the Mt. Pearl Challenge Cup team that captured the City's first Challenge Cup title. To have coached with Farmer Reddy for fives years and to have had the pleasure of coaching players like Mark Reddy, Ryan Caines, Gerald Connolly, David Bailey, Victor Dray and Gordon Ryan from the time they were 15 years old, and to watch them hoist that trophy was a big thrill for me.
8.What has been your greatest disappointment as a coach?
Failing to repeat as Challenge Cup Champions in 2004. In particular, losing to Marystown in the semi, having led 2-0 early in that game. I give them full credit for the win as they were very deserving in their efforts to generate such a dramatic shift in the momentum in that game. If I had to do it all over again, I may have done a few things differently, which may or may not have made a difference in the outcome.
9. Name the top 3 players that you played with?
These are tough questions. I've played with lots of great players. I know there's probably someone I'm not thinking of right now, but if I must I would say Tom Burton of Grand Bank, Bob Spearns of St. Lawrence and Joe Slaney of St. John's.
10. Name the top 3 players that you played against?
The Breens (all of them). Top 3 that I played against - John Breen with Holy Cross, John Clarke when he played junior soccer in St. Lawrence, and Rod Drake with Lawn.
11. What's one thing that's related to soccer that bugs you?
I would have to say the lack of respect that I sometimes see fans having for the players, especially in the challenge cup league. That is very disappointing considering the commitment that these players are putting in to compete at this level.
12. As a coach, what are your best qualities?
13. As a coach, what are your worst qualities?
Sometimes, lack of patience during games when my team is not playing to its' potential. I spend a lot of thinking about a game afterwards, especially if it was a loss.
14. For the past number of years you have coached both the MUN's Ladies Seahawks Soccer Club and the Mount Pearl Senior Men's Challenge Cup Team. Who do you prefer to coach men's soccer or ladies soccer ?
I don't have a preference. During the summers I'm able to coach the Mt. Pearl Challenge Cup team and the Mt. Pearl Girls Under 16A's, which my oldest daughter Gillian plays with. During the fall, I coach the MUN Ladies Seahawks Team. Coaching each team, brings with it essentially the same type of challenges in terms of game preparation, team development and cohesiveness. With the Under 16 girls, I get a great deal of satisfaction in watching them develop as players and as a team. And the same with the both the Challenge Cup and MUN teams, although with those two teams there is a much greater focus on the competitive side.
15. Which soccer personality inspires you?
I don't follow any of the leagues abroad that closely to be able to answer this one that way. However there are people close to home who inspire me. For having probably the biggest heart for the game of soccer that I know of - Farmer Reddy. Also the people who inspire me the most are all of the players that I coach, especially watching them play a game where they know they have played to their full potential.
16. What is the most vivid dream you've ever had when it comes to soccer?
Growing up on the Peninsula, I watched many challenge cup finals and most of those were in St. Lawrence. I would have to say, and this comes out of the respect I have for the people and players in St. Lawrence, that my most vivid dream would be to win the Challenge Cup right there in St. Lawrence. Winning it for the first time in Mt. Pearl was very special; next to that would be to win it there.
17. What is your most treasured soccer award?
The couple of NLSA coach of the year awards since they're a reflection of the teams I coached that year.
18. Who's one Challenge Cup soccer player who's playing for another club that you'd love to add to strengthen your team?
Why did I agree to do this? If I had to choose it would be Rudy Norman with the Laurentians.
19. If you were president of the NLSA what's one thing you would change?
Interesting question since getting more involved in that side of the game is a thought that I have entertained but not one that I would consider for a while. I think that Doug Redmond, the current President, is providing great leadership and doing a great job. There is one area though with the provincial association that I would consider very important if we want to continue to develop elite players in this province. And that is to implement a program model that allows the very best players in the province, regardless of where they live or their family's financial resources, an opportunity to compete at that level.. I would like to see a corporate/government funded program implemented, and not just for soccer but for all sports in this province, through which our elite athletes are encouraged to participate based on their athletic abilities rather than their financial abilities.
20. After 2005, what is in store for Walt Mavin ?
More coaching I hope. For the past 5 years, I have been coaching three teams each year and a lot of people may say that's too much. However the MUN season doesn't start until September so it is manageable. For me it's all about the enjoyment I get being around the game, and the people and players associated with it. For my wife Jeannette and our daughters, Katelyn and Gillian, soccer has become a big part of our life and without their support I would not be able to be involved as much as I am, and for that I am very thankful. Each year in November, after the season is over, the conversation in our house begins on what my plans are for the following year. Whether I take on the responsibility of coaching the same teams next year is a decision that we'll be making over the winter as I complete those small jobs around the house that I didn't get time to do during the summer. Come to think of it, it's Jeannette whose greatest quality is patience
Gord Dunphy is a former 1990ís Challenge Cup All - Star coach of the St. Lawrence Laurentians and National Bronze Medallist. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com