Josiah Van Wingerden | Media Specialist
The friendship of soccer coaches Morgan Cathey and Bryan Olson is noticeable, even to the casual observer. The pair are often seen together at soccer games and events laughing.
Cathey is entering his fifth year as the men’s head coach, while Olson is preparing for his sophomore season as the women’s head coach. The two of them sat down for an exclusive interview in which they talked about their friendship, coaching styles, team mission and goals for next season.
Editor’s note: Interview questions are bolded and answers have been edited slightly for clarity.
Josiah Van Wingerden: What is the secret to the success of your long-lasting friendship?
Bryan Olson: I just so admire and appreciate who [Cathey] is and how he loves and how he shows that love. From his first visit on campus, but the light that pours out of him in every interaction. And to see that, it was more than just the first appearance in that campus visit and making a great statement. It’s every single day and it’s who he is. I just appreciate how genuine he is.
Morgan Cathey: I think what makes our friendship great is that [Olson] always strives to promote others around him and he’s taught me so much about what humility and what grace and intentionality is all about. I love how Bo listens, I love how he intentionally cares and really seeks ways to really show his care. He’s been so great at really finding true things to ask about and want to really know about others. You see that when he’s with his [women’s] soccer players, you see that when he’s with a person he meets for the first time. For me, I’ve just been privileged to have a friendship with somebody who really cares about every area of my life.
JVW: How would you describe your individual coaching styles and what influences it?
MC: I would say that my coaching philosophy is a desire to see myself as a teacher and my players as people. And not see myself as a sport coach, coaching a game and that my players are only players in that game. But to really, really, really, try to invest in everything I can as a teacher to get to know my players as people and bring the best out of them as people and to develop them as people. I tell our guys all the time ‘you might think you guys are here to play soccer, but you’re really here to develop your character. Soccer is an incredible platform to develop your character.’ My philosophy is I want to be the best I can be at getting to know my guys and teaching them the values of hard working and how they treat other people through the game of soccer.
BO: When I think about influences, the first people I think about are my grandparents and parents. I didn’t even know at the time what a huge influence they’re playing out through me every day. How they interacted with me, loved me and taught me. Then to step into a college environment as a player and being around the people that I was around in a soccer environment and outside a soccer environment here, who were pouring in some of those same things. Massive intentionality, genuine care, great soccer knowledge. To be influenced when I wasn’t even looking for it, before the thought of coaching was even on my mind; and then when that transition happened to be in a place where I’ve been influenced by two of the best coaches in the whole country. And then to have my eyes opened again for the first time when Morgan walked in the door to what a soccer program can be and to live that firsthand for three years. I am so thankful for who was in my life and has influenced me, which plays out in huge ways, in who I am in our program and who I am every day.
JVW: What is the mission statement of each team?
MC: Our mission really is embodied in our six core values. If I were just to talk about one of those core values, Ubuntu [meaning “I am because we are”] is a great core value. The reason we think it’s a great core value is because every one of our young men come into our program either wanting to exist for the program to promote them or wanting to exist to promote the program. We want to take them on a journey that when they leave [Whitworth], and this is the great understanding of Ubuntu, is that they want to enrich themselves in the best possible way that they know how, for the betterment of others and for the community around them, to promote others.
BO: We exist in order to equip and encourage our members - coaches and players - to be exceptional users of the gifts that God has given them. One common thread that brings us together is soccer. How can we be great stewards of that gift that brings us together, but I think if that was our only focus we’d miss out on a lot of what we’re capable of in this time. In our program, we focus on building authentic relationships, we focus on what we give of ourselves. Not just what we can soak up in this process, but how we can serve and engage one another. To be great encouragers of one another in that process as well.
JVW: What’s one thing you are both excited for the upcoming season?
MC: I’m super excited for our program. Every year is a new year and has new characters and expectations based on who we are. Every time you add one new player, it’s a new team with new dynamics. To see where we’re at right now - to have eight young men that Bo and I both recruited my first year here that will be seniors - every one of those eight that we brought in that year have stayed through the program and have invested massively in the program. I’m really excited to let them carry this program in massive ways. I’m super excited - I’m holding back my excitement and I can’t wait for next season to begin.
BO: One thought that’s been on my heart these last couple weeks comes from Ephesians and it says ‘man, we serve a God who does what we can’t even dream or imagine’ and I can’t wait for that. The things that I can’t even dream of, the seeds that are being sown and the relationships that are being formed and the soccer that comes out, but the more important parts that I can’t even dream of right now. I am excited for that.