If you peruse the history of most successful teams, it is often the case that the program or team was doing well but one piece really helped to take the team to another level. It may not have looked like a huge deal when a key free agent was brought in or a new assistant was added, but the results on the field proved to be more exceptional than anyone could have imagined. In just two seasons that is the kind of impact that cornerbacks coach Sean McMoore is having on the Macalester Fighting Scots, and it is clear that he is just getting started.
Coach McMoore came to Macalester College with an impressive resume. The Macalester Coach was a standout in high school at Minneapolis Washburn and found himself heavily recruited by Division-I schools to play football, but decided that the University of Northern Iowa was the place where he wanted to play college ball.
“I had a couple of opportunities to play and I wanted to play at a high level with a chance for a championship. They gave me a scholarship. I could have gone to North Dakota or Minnesota, but I wanted to play and not be the punching bag of a conference. So I went to UNI. The program was prestigious in football and had a great academic program. Plus,” he adds laughing, “they had a dome.”
Sean red-shirted his freshman year, but then played in every game over the next four years of his career. His play caught the attention of the Minnesota Vikings who signed the Northern Iowa graduate. He played cornerback for the Vikings for two seasons, and played professionally in the Indoor and Arena Football Leagues before hanging up the cleats.
After retiring from professional football, Sean coached a year at Ellsworth College before returning to his alma mater to become the defensive backs and linebackers coach. Becoming a teacher-coach is what he had always envisioned for himself, and returning to the school where he starred was a golden opportunity.
“I always saw myself as a teacher and coach. Coaching has always been a part of my family, and I thought this was the perfect opportunity for me. Coaching is teaching and I wanted to really stay in football because of my love of the game.”
It was the perfect opportunity to help teach the game he loved so much, as the Coach explained to The Beacon’s Nasriye Birmaji. “I love it here, you know. Great students, the staff are welcoming, and everybody is working towards a common goal of making sure every student is getting the best education they possibly can.”
In 2013, Coach McMoore moved onto to Harding High School where he became the defensive backs coach and serves as an intervention specialist. He attained his master’s degee in education and still serves in helping students at the St. Paul school.
His football duties changed in 2014 when Macalester Fighting Scots head coach Tony Jennison asked Sean to join his staff. Coach McMoore loved his time coaching high school football, but he knew he wanted to eventually coach in the college ranks.
“My love for coaching was really in college. I think that is a place where I see that I can have the biggest impact and I wanted to coach at the college level. My own experiences there were great and I wanted to share those kinds of experiences with the players.”
While his experiences in college were exceptional, his love of the game was fostered early on by his family. They were the ones who introduced him to and gave him his appreciation of the sport.
“My grandfather was a coach and then was an athletic director. My dad was a coach. So I was always around it and had an interest in it. With my twin brother we just enjoyed playing football so much and it just became a big part of my life.”
While his father and grandfather had laid the foundation for his passion in the sport, it was those who instructed him along the way that were most impacting him. He soon found that he wanted to have the same impact as a coach that others had on him.
“Looking at my coaches in high school and college I have always looked up to them and always wanted to be like them. I always saw how coaches had a bit impact on my life and I wanted to have that same kind of life and have that same kind of impact. To use football as a tool to help me to impact young men to be successful in life. I really felt that coaching was something that came natural to me. I thought being a coach would be a great way to stay around the sport.”
In his two seasons as an assistant Coach McMoore has helped to develop one of the stronger secondaries in the Midwest Conference (MWC). Last season’s team was third in the conference in least passing yards allowed and had 14 interceptions, third most in the MWC. This season the team is ranked fifth overall, but has only yielded nine more yards per game on average than the previous season, and they have 10 interceptions as a group.
Coach Jennison is quite pleased with the progress of his defensive backs and his coach, and sees that this is just the beginning. “Sean has been a great addition to our team. In his second year with us he continues to grow and develop into a coach that the players appreciate and respect. He has a bright future in the coaching profession.”
While he has helped to strengthen the Fighting Scots defense, his focus is on much more than teaching good technique or how to get off of a block. The Scots Coach still sees that he is a teacher at heart. He is thankful that football gives him the opportunity to teach about life beyond the field.
“Football has a lot of life lessons. It teaches responsibility. It teaches work ethic. It teaches perseverance. All the good qualities that make you a good football player can translate into the real world. So if you are successful on the field and progressing, learning to master your craft on the field, this can translate to the real world. It really does start in college.”
While wanting the best from them, he also wants his players to keep in mind that this is still a game. That means this should be something that is fun for him and his team. “I try to keep it fun for them. I know they have a rigorous schedule here so I try to keep it simple here and keep it fun.”
While teaching lessons to his players is a fun part of his job, he also admits that he had to learn a few of his own. That has meant that he had to adjust his coaching style a bit from when he first started.
“I know that when I first started I was always super excited like I was the one who was playing and I was always trying to go out there like I was about to go and play. Now I realize I am fatter and not as fast,” he explains with a laugh. “So I try to use my ability to communicate more and paint a picture for them. I am a lot more composed, because I think I was a little too excited early on.”
Sean McMoore may have had to calm himself down a little over the years, but his passion for his team has never waned. These are young men that he respects greatly, and he wants to see great things of them.
“These are great young men here, and it is a privilege to coach them. I know they can do great things because I get to see it every day. I can’t express how much they have impacted me; much more than I think I have done for them.”
Coming off a school record 9-2 season, this year has been a challenge as the Fighting Scots are 4-4. Despite the diminished success, the team has a very bright future ahead. With outstanding talent in the sophomore and freshman classes this is going to be a competitive team for years to come.
With brilliant and inspirational coaches like Sean McMoore it is likely those talented young men will reach heights that they could not even imagine. That will mean the success the Fighting Scots had last season will become a regular occurrence around Macalester College. It will also likely mean that some college or university will want that same success on their campus. So enjoy the moment Scots players and fans – your coach is making such a difference that he may again be the difference somewhere else.
Featured Image Courtesy of Jody Russell Photography.
By Robert Pannier