by Henry Miller | Sports Editor
A Jan Term trip to South Africa, filled with valuable time with teammates and the game you love, is not the environment in which you expect to process that your head coach will be leaving you before the start of your 2020 season.
This was the reality the men’s soccer team faced, as head coach Morgan Cathey resigned after seven seasons with the Pirates to become the head coach at Cal State Stanislaus, a program where he served as the assistant coach before taking the job as the Pirates head coach.
“When I first learned he was leaving I didn’t believe it. He told me he would never leave, and that he was always going to be at Whitworth and to hear that was kind of mind-boggling,” said freshman midfielder Chris Berry.
“He called us individually before we left so we had two weeks to process before meeting again as a team,” junior defender Scott Penner said.
Penner is currently a part of the selection committee, which is holding on-campus interviews, but was unable to provide information on possible candidates.
“We just want a coach that continues the culture and invests in the players,” said junior midfielder Azzam Azzam.
The current interim head coach is former assistant coach Shane Bangle. The team has rallied in the absence of a head coach, and new leaders have emerged to fill the void. The team says they have all held each other accountable for off-season training and conditioning, knowing that even without a designated leader the team must continue to train to be able to compete at the highest level.
“This is just another opportunity for us to grow and get stronger together. People stepped up leadership-wise and everyone has just come together as a whole,” junior midfielder Ethan Kem said.
Cathey finished his coaching tenure at Whitworth with a record of 82 wins, 39 losses and 16 draws. Three NWC titles were won under Cathey, from 2014 to 2016. During this three-year run, Cathey also coached three Defensive Players of the Year: Matt Bray (2014), Spencer Wolfe (2015) and Timmy Costa (2016).
“[Cathey] exemplified the mission of Whitworth Athletics, building a championship program on the field and building champions off it,” Whitworth athletic director Tim Demant said. “His commitment to developing his players on and off the field was unwavering. He viewed them as an extension of his own family.”
“I have counted it a joy and blessing to have had the privilege of leading this program during the past seven seasons. Every young man that has put on a jersey during my time at Whitworth has committed more than any coach could ever ask for,” Cathey said.
The players said they feel that they will return for the 2020 season with a new resolve and drive to win after this off-season.