TELEGRAM FEATURE: Together for 25 years
By Jennifer Toland TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
When Malcolm MacPherson was offered the WPI men's soccer head coach position in 1992, he told then-WPI director of athletics Ray Gilbert he would accept it, but there was one stipulation — MacPherson wanted to bring Evan Holmes, his assistant at Fitchburg State the previous three seasons, with him.
"Believe me," MacPherson said before Monday's practice, "I wasn't going to come if he didn't come. Ray said OK, and here we are."
MacPherson and Holmes have been together for 25 years, and last week this likeable duo celebrated its silver coaching anniversary with MacPherson's 300th career win. Holmes has been part of more than 200 of them.
The Engineers beat Salve Regina, 3-1, to help MacPherson reach his latest milestone.
"You don't think about it while you're getting there, those kind of accomplishments," Holmes said. "Then you sit back and look around and you think, 'That's a lot of games and a lot of wins in a long period of time.' As we pulled up from Salve, Malcolm said, 'You know, I've been on a lot of bus rides,' and it's true. The kids stay the same age. We get older and you don't realize it because we're so fortunate to be with all these college-aged student-athletes. It's an amazing environment."
Holmes, who at 63 is two weeks younger than MacPherson, was born in Medford and grew up in the Boston area. He moved to Central Mass. to become the Holy Cross men's soccer coach and was with the Crusaders from 1978-83.
Holmes also coached at Boston College, Clark and Holy Name High. He joined MacPherson's staff at Fitchburg State in 1989.
At WPI, MacPherson and Holmes have guided the Engineers to 17 winning seasons and numerous postseason berths, including the 1992 NCAA Tournament. From 2002-04, WPI had a .700 winning percentage. The Engineers are 5-2-1 this year.
"It's been great," Holmes said.
Holmes is one of the longest tenured assistant coaches in any sport in the NEWMAC. In 2002, he was named the AFLAC National Assistant Coach of the Year.
"It's been great to have Evan by my side all this time," MacPherson said. "His passion and knowledge for the game are outstanding. I've leaned on him a lot. It's worked very well. I couldn't think of coaching without him."
Last year when MacPherson missed some time at the beginning of the season for health reasons, Holmes andBrian Kelly, who this year was elevated to co-head coach, oversaw the program.
MacPherson registered win No. 200 in 2001 — he remembers the come-from-behind overtime victory and the tying bicycle-kick goal by Sutton's Jimmy Jenkins vividly. Soon after that achievement, he was asked if he was looking forward to getting No. 300.
"I don't know if I'll be around that long," MacPherson said at the time.
"Here I still am," he said Monday.
As for No. 325? 350?
"I'm year to year," MacPherson said. "Let's put it that way. I'm just focused on No. 301 right now."
Story appeared in Worcester Telegram and Gazette - Wednesday, October 2nd (Scroll Down)