Coaching soccer a way of life for McLaughlins
At the end of the summer, Dan and Nancy McLaughlin drive from their home in Navarre Beach, Florida, Indiana to experience about three months of apartment life.
It’s no coincidence that the long road trip overlaps high school football season.
Dan, in his third season as the girls’ assistant coach at Whiteland, is never put in the awkward position of competing with the second of his three children. Jameson McLaughlin is the Center Grove boys soccer coach.
Same sport. Different concerts. There is no shortage of good times with the family.
“It works. It’s just wonderful, ”said Dan McLaughlin, 70, who a few years ago helped create temporary housing in what was previously an office space one block from the residence that Jameson occupies with his wife, Katie, and their three children.
“I am truly blessed to be close to my three children, and that the three children are truly close.”
Dan and Nancy celebrate their 40th birthday on September 19. His first wife, Debbie, the mother of his three grown children, is a close friend of Nancy. Additionally, the children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild all live in the Indianapolis area.
Football has long played an important role in Dan’s relationship with his children.
“My dad, my brother (Danny), my sister (Amanda), we always played football in our house growing up,” said Jameson, 45. “My dad always made me play with my brother, who is five years older than me. It’s the only sport I played growing up. All my friends played, so that’s kinda with who I grew up.
“I thought about playing football once. I think I went to a summer event.
The continuous movement of football was preferred by Jameson. He started playing at the age of 4 and the family lived at Speedway.
His mother was his first football coach.
All of Dan and Debbie’s children eventually played football and graduated from Center Grove – Danny in 1989, Jameson in 1994, and Amanda in 1996.
Dan McLaughlin, a Southsider himself (Southport, class of 1969), coached women’s football teams at Center Grove and Southport, with another stint at Steilacoom High School in Wash., Where he coached boys and girls.
His introduction to coaching took place years earlier.
“I was 30 when I started,” Dan said, referring to the 1981-1982 school year. “Danny was 10 years old and he came home from school one day with a football registration. I filled out the form and indicated that I would help the coach. Two weeks later I got a call and they said, “Your team, that’s it, that’s your list and these are the nights you practice.”
“I said who the coach is, and they said, ‘You are. “”
Dan McLaughlin gathered as many football books as he could and watched sports VHS tapes, essentially absorbing as much information as he could.
The elder McLaughlin enjoyed being around people, the sense of leading a team and helping players grow on and off the pitch. Like his children years later, the constant action after the first whistle won over Dan.
Dan recounts how his father once took him, Danny and Jameson, to an Indianapolis Indians game at Old Bush Stadium when the boys were young.
In the third round, the brothers asked when they could leave.
Dan McLaughlin led Center Grove women’s soccer for 12 seasons (1991-2002), winning the first eight of the program’s 23 section titles. His 1997 team advanced to the state championship game, losing 3-0 to Carmel at Kuntz Stadium in Indianapolis.
This is the toughest playoffs on any Center Grove women’s football team; Jameson holds the same distinction on the boys’ side.
In 2015, Jameson’s first season, the Trojans won the Class 2A crown by beating West Lafayette Harrison, 4-0, in the final at IUPUI. This remains the boys’ only appearance in a state final.
Ahead of the 2019 season, Whiteland hired Nick Magdalinos to be the women’s football coach. One of his first phone calls was to Dan McLaughlin, who the coach said was the perfect assistant as long as McLaughlin was willing to sacrifice a few months of Florida weather every year.
“Dan brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and fun to our program,” said Magdalinos. “When I was considering returning to coaching, he told me he would come and help me, and here we are.”
Similarities in the style of coaching exist between father and son, although there are some differences as well.
“I am a social person like him. I just love being around people and being part of a team, ”said Jameson, claims manager at Liberty Mutual Insurance for 17 years. “We’re both analytical. Even if he has more patience than me… I would say that I am hypercompetitive.
“My dad took over some programs that weren’t winning programs that I know I couldn’t do. But he returned them.
Best of all, when it comes to football, both McLaughlins know that a reliable sounding board is only a short distance away no matter who asks.