Three decades strong

Women’s soccer head coach Dave McDowell talks to The Journal about new role as technical director for both men’s and women’s programs

Dave McDowell has seen it all when it comes to Queen’s soccer. 

Currently in his 30th season as women’s soccer head coach, McDowell — who played varsity for Queen’s in the 1980s before assuming a lead coaching position in ’88 — has yet to experience a losing season with the Gaels. 

The program’s winning percentage of just over 72 per cent since he’s been in charge speaks for itself. With three national championships, five provincial titles, two U Sports Coach of the Year awards and being a seven-time OUA Coach of the Year, McDowell has a long list of accolades. 

It’s hard not to marvel at McDowell’s coaching career and success. He’s left an indelible mark on the program’s storied history — he knows the program inside and out. 

This past July, Queen’s Athletics promoted McDowell to being head coach on a full-time basis — he was part-time prior to this season — and also brought him on as the technical director of both men’s and women’s soccer programs.

The Journal spoke with the coach to discuss his new role, how he’s balancing a denser workload and his prolonged affection for Queen’s athletics.  

What does the women’s program and Queen’s as a whole mean to you — both as a former varsity athlete and a long-time coach?

Well, obviously it’s been a huge part of my life for some 30 years — that’s a long time. There’s been a passion here [at Queen’s], you know? 

Is that connection you feel to the school’s passion and history something that kept bringing you back? 

It’s is something I love doing, and getting to do it full-time — as I get a little older in life — has been very fulfilling. 

I’m thoroughly enjoying the full time experience. 

How is being director and having to oversee two whole programs different from just being a coach? 

I think that’s what Christian [Hoefler] — the men’s head coach — and I are working through right now … how I can best help him and his role.

We certainly spend more time together, and I think there’s more of a combination between the two of us looking to see what’s best for the soccer programs at large as opposed to when it’s just you and you’re desperately trying to find time to help your own team be as best as they can.

There’s a real push to help both programs — and I think we’ll see more of it as we get through the season and look into recruiting and how we can combine recruiting efforts.

Any way that I can help make both teams better teams is the goal. 

Does this role take away from your coaching duties? 

I wouldn’t say it takes away. I was just talking with Christian the other day about how hard it would be to be the coach of both teams … you know, to sort of have to invest all of the attention and emotion and all the things you invest during a game and then suddenly turning that off and going to another game afterwards — it would be very difficult.

Within the parameters of this situation, I don’t think it’s taken away from anything to do with the women’s team. 

It’s been a real benefit so far to both teams, but I think you’ll see that come to fulfillment more as [Christian and I] sort of feel our way through the new jobs.

How has the women’s program experienced so much success under your tutelage? 

It’s always important to establish a sense of competitive entitlement — feeling that no matter what situation you’re in in a game or during a season, that you’re always going to find a way to be successful.

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