Brett McCabe: Continuing to use resiliency to power Parish Athletics
"You always think you have your career path all planned out and it's going to work out exactly the way you draw it up," Parish Episcopal Athletic Director Brett McCabe told VYPEDFW during the Parish Episcopal VYPE Fall Sports Photoshoot. "For me, I always envisioned that I would work at the college level until I got to that age where I didn't connect with the kids anymore and it was time to transition into an administrative role." McCabe has started his 10th year at Parish Episcopal and says he would not change a thing.
McCabe spent eight years as a college baseball coach at the University of Kansas, but the life of always being on the road as a newlywed wanting to start a family didn't pan out to be exactly what he expected it to be. "Coaching at the D1 level, my primary responsibility was recruiting so I was on the road all the time. In my last year coaching, I spent over 100 nights in a hotel room. I figured it wasn't for me. I wanted to be more present and available for my family, so I made the tough decision to leave coaching for an administrative role." In doing so, McCabe landed at Parish Episcopal where he has enjoyed watching each program grow and develop into something great.
What's in store for 2021-22?
With the 2020-21 season being during unprecedented times, a lot changed. Schools had to adapt their everyday routines which means that everyone else did, too: students, teachers, athletic departments, coaches, and even athletic directors. "We're just hoping to get back to some sense of normalcy," said McCabe. "I would say last year I was very happy that we were able to complete all of our seasons. Now, that was under a lot of restrictions and protocols that we had to follow, but we were able to get through it and I was happy about that for our kids."
With such an out-of-the-normal experience, it's easy to look forward to the upcoming season."As I look into this year what I'm looking forward to is hopefully getting back to that sense of normalcy where maybe we can have full capacity for outside events- for inside events. Getting back to that environment that we all love to see in athletics. Ultimately, I'm simply excited to see our athletics get to compete again."
Parish Athletics Goals & Strengths
While winning the most games and championships is important to a lot of people that play sports or work in sports, McCabe says it's a little different at Parish. "I know hanging banners and winning championships is nice- and that's always going to be our ultimate goal- but honestly, it's more about the experience for the kids. We want to have a positive experience for our kids. Meaning, we want them all to have an opportunity."
For McCabe, what's important is remembering that not every athlete that crosses his path wants to go on to continue to work in sports. In fact, if you talk to many athletes or ask them what they want to major in in college a lot of them have a story about someone in their life that impacted them so much that they want to do a similar career- a lot say sports medicine, dentistry, business, and more. "Not all of our athletes aspire to be professional or play in college," McCabe added. "Some just like to be with their friends and peers. Some just like to compete. We're a smaller school so we're not in the business of cutting kids and things of that nature, so we want to provide an opportunity for them."
Recognizing that some students do aspire to go on to play in college and hopefully a professional career, McCabe added that another one of Parish athletics' key goals is giving their athletes the best chance at doing just that by providing everything they might need in order to succeed on and off the field or court. "We try to put together the best coaching staff that we can, provide the best equipment and facilities, and we try to provide the best environment that we can for them to thrive."
Bradley Collier (VYPE Media)
To be a department that continues to provide excellent experiences for their students, it takes a lot of hard work and determination from everyone involved. There's no doubt that McCabe continues to go above and beyond for Parish athletics as well as all of the students that cross his path- because of that, you can see the strengths as soon as you walk into the doors of the gym or through the gates of the fields. For McCabe, the strengths of Parish athletics can be summed up in one word: "Resiliency."
"We're one of the smaller TAPPS 6A schools and we are competing in that division so our kids had a choice to make: we could either make all of the excuses about being. smaller school with fewer kids that play against bigger schools who beat up on us OR we can figure out how to get tougher skill-wise, in the weight room, mentally, and all-around figure out how to get it done."
The fact that his athletes have continued to show the resiliency needed to play against bigger schools is something that McCabe has been able to take a lot of pride in. "Since we moved up to 6A all of our teams have been competitive across the board- I'm most proud of that."
Best Memories & Benefits of the job
"Personally, just getting the opportunity to be the athletic director and support 22 programs is the best," McCabe told VYPE. "First and foremost, I'm always simply going to be thankful for this opportunity." Working for an athletic program like Parish where all of the athletes show up every day with a determination to succeed can make for many great memories. McCabe can split up some of his favorite memories between sporting accomplishments and professional accomplishments. "Professionally: seeing as much success as I've been able to see with all of our programs; that doesn't just mean wins and losses. I feel like we've gotten stronger during my nine years. I think we've hired better coaches and improved our facilities. Honestly, we've approved in all areas."
"Of course there are some teams that have done some special things over the years," McCabe said as he went into the sporting event aspect of his favorite memories, "but I don't think it's fair to just pinpoint one or the other because I think collectively they've all done a great job. Everyone has gotten better."
With so many great memories, seeing benefits in coming to work every single day isn't difficult. "One, I love sports so I get to come to work every day and do something that I love. Two, I get to help kids do something that they love and have a passion for. While there is a lot of administrative stuff that I have to do throughout the day, I also get to come to all of their practices and games. I get to watch them succeed. I get to be a big fan. It's a lot of fun because I honestly don't feel like I come to work; I feel like I get to come and play every day."
Learning from the students
When you're in the business of education- whether that's as a teacher or you're working to improve the lives of athletes at a school- one of your main duties is helping to teach the students. Teaching them doesn't necessarily mean about core subjects like math, science, history, and more, but it could also mean about life. At the end of the day, you realize that as much as you have taught students, they also teach you. This has proven to be true for McCabe.
"I'm going to speak to it as in since the pandemic hit because seeing it all through their eyes is different," started McCabe. "As an administrator, we've got to put protocols in place and do everything that we can in order to keep everybody safe while still having an event or game move on. However, it's interesting to watch the kids navigate through this because they are still just kids and they're going to do what we tell them. They probably don't like wearing masks, but they still do it. What's interesting is the fact that they're still kids at the heart of it all: they're still talking, playing, they'll joke, and they're still doing all of the things that they'd normally do- they just do it all within the parameters we have given them."
With the ability to continue having fun even despite what will surely go down in history as one of the more difficult seasons, athletes across the country have had a lot to teach the adults around them. "What I've learned is as maybe I've stressed about the pandemic on how it has impacted me, my family, and the athletic department it's refreshing to see the kids still just act as normal as they can act. It's a reminder that, at the end of the day, you've got to do what you've got to do in order to keep moving forward."
Parish Episcopal School as well as the athletic department are going to continue to keep moving forward this year as well as many, many years to come thanks to the resiliency of their students, but also thanks to strong people in leadership like Brett McCabe.