The St. Hubert soccer team has known only one coach. Ever.
And that coach, who was instrumental in starting the team in 1981, announced his retirement after finishing his 43rd season in October.
Mickey McGroarty, 75, has accumulated 470 wins and won nine Catholic League titles during his long career at St. Hubert. He coached thousands of girls, and hundreds of them went on to play at all levels in college. And although he suffered his first losing season this year, that wasn’t the reason he walked away.
“The last 10 years, I’ve been through a lot of medical stuff,” McGroarty said. “All those medical things start to build up on you, and it catches up to you. I’m not getting younger, and I just thought it was time.”
McGroarty credits his wife, Beth, for getting him into coaching. When he attended one of his daughter’s softball games in the early 1970s, his wife introduced him to his daughter’s coach. The coach then asked McGroarty to help out for the final week of the season. He obliged and fell in love with coaching.
McGroarty went on to coach for the Mayfair Shamrocks, a club soccer team in Northeast Philadelphia. Then one of his players asked him to organize an intramural soccer program at St. Hubert.
“So the next day I went over to St. Hubert and spoke to the athletic director, and I presented my side of it,” he said. “The first day we announced sign-ups for girls’ soccer, there were 331 girls signed up.”
After the intramural league kicked off in 1975, players eventually wanted to play other schools. So McGroarty organized a league of seven teams, and Catholic League girls’ soccer became a varsity sport in 1981.
Cathy Ford was on that first St. Hubert’s team, and she said she owes a lot to McGroarty.
She recalls taking two recruiting trips with McGroarty to North Carolina and Connecticut. Ford ended up playing for Villanova on a partial scholarship.
Ford went into coaching after college and has assisted McGroarty at St. Hubert since 2008.
“Mickey always taught us to always give back to the game,” Ford said. “The way you give back to the game is to teach what you’ve been taught.”
Ford said she is hoping to replace McGroarty as St. Hubert head coach and fulfill his wish.
"I just hope they take care of the position and do a decent job there,” McGroarty said, “because that was my baby.”