After a sensational career as an all-American soccer player at SUNY Plattsburgh, Brian McGrane made the sport his life's work; now he nears the start of his 13th season as head coach of a Laker women's program eager to take care of unfinished business.

How long have you been at SUNY Oswego?

Since 2007. Oswego is a place I've known forever. My aunt and uncle live in Oswego. My cousins grew up here -- two still live in the town. Two younger cousins attend my (soccer) camp every summer.

Where were you born and raised? Where did you play soccer?

I was born in Geneva, but grew up in Liverpool. I still live in Liverpool. I think there was U-4, U-5 soccer in Liverpool that my parents signed my brother and me up for to get us out of the house. I kind of took off from there. In high school, I was fortunate to play soccer with some really, really good players. I was on the varsity my sophomore, junior and senior years.

And you made All-American in college?

I played all four years at SUNY Plattsburgh, and was all-SUNYAC all four years -- one of three SUNYAC players ever to be first team all four years. I was voted All-America in 2001. I'm proud to be a member of Plattsburgh's Hall of Fame.

What is it you love so much about soccer it became your career?

A lot of it had to do with having a brother who was three years older. When you are the younger of the siblings, you always try to follow the example they set. He loved soccer. I have a lot of energy -- it's one of those games where there's constant movement and there's not a lot of stops. I never played baseball, because my parents said it was too boring for me. They probably would have preferred it -- less injuries. (Laughs.) As you get older and you see that you're doing OK, it's just one of those things that you really enjoy doing. I can vividly remember my freshman year in college: I walked into our coach's office and he had his feet on his desk and he had a soda and one of these big chocolate chip cookies, and he goes, "We're planning our practice." And I said, "Man, this is a job that I could do." (Laughs.) It's just the love for the game and how competitive I am. I just don't think I could do a regular 9 to 5 job without any competition. As you get older and you start to understand the game from a different perspective than just playing, it becomes a different passion.

What has driven you to stay with women's soccer all of these years?

I was a men's assistant for three years, one at Plattsburgh following graduation and two at a Division II college in North Carolina, St. Andrew's. I moved on to coach women's soccer at Elmira before coming here. To be honest, the women's game has been a blessing. I am very intense, and I think on the women's side it has allowed me to take a step back and get a different perspective. It's a different battle, because a lot of it's based on emotion, so communication is huge with me and with our players. I've grown to love it over the last 12-13 years, just seeing how committed they are. You get a different understanding for how much work they put in, how much time and commitment they're putting in, and how good they are. The players are very strong, very driven academically, athletically. They are genuinely good people. They have been a joy to be around. I think a big reason coaches stay is because of their players.

You were SUNY Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2013. What was that team like?

When I took over the women's program in 2007, I was the fourth coach here in five years. The team had gone 1-15 the year before. With anything, if you have continuity and consistency, things will slowly get better and better. We were competitive, but many of the players weren't as committed as they are now. Slowly, around 2010-11-12, we started to turn the tables -- we started to get more soccer players who played year around. By 2013, it kind of came full circle and we made our first postseason appearance in 11 years. It's kind of taken off from there. That was a great group of seniors and a good group of freshmen. The leadership of that senior class and junior class was really, really strong. We've been to the SUNYAC playoffs three times; missed out the last couple of years by a total of three points.

How big a part of the job is recruiting? 

It IS the job. Anybody can sit out there and coach. But if you don't have the players or the talent, it's not that enjoyable. Recruiting is the lifeline of the program -- going out and watching kids, making phone calls, emails and texts, not just to them, but to their high school or club coaches. Getting to know more about them is a big part of the job, and then getting them to visit the campus is big, and then spending time with them and their families. April, May through the end of July is huge for us. Obviously, when our season starts, phone calls and high school games are important, but then late October, November, early December are big for club events. Most of our players were club players, and most of them are committed to playing soccer the full year. There are a lot of players in high school who are (only) committed for three months. There are some very good club teams in Syracuse, Rochester, Binghamton locally, though we also try to do a lot Downstate -- Westchester County, Long Island.

What do you tell your recruits sets our women's soccer program apart?

I ask every girl what they want out of a program. The one thing that is constant is that they all want a family-like atmosphere. The thing about Oswego that I’m always excited about is coming to work -- the people you work with in this building, the other coaches are very supportive. I've worked in four different places, and I’ve never worked in another that you can walk into anybody’s office and have a five- to 20-minute conversation with any of them. Our team is very much like that -- very open. To me, that’s a huge plus. I’m big on communication. I'm a fairly outgoing person, too. If there’s dead silence in a room, I start to get uncomfortable. I’m very open to players just being themselves. We had 24 players on the team last fall and 24 different personalities. You just have to be able to manage them and understand that this kid is different from that kid. I’m pleased when players can be themselves and express themselves and not have anyone judge them.

Besides recruiting, how do your summers go?

You're never off. This is my 11th summer with camps. The last five or six years I've always done two. This year, they are July 22 to 25 and Aug. 5 to 8, for ages 4 to 15, boys and girls.

I also get a change in the summer when I coach a semiprofessional women’s team based in Syracuse with a lot of Division I players – some are recent grads and some are current college players. I’m an assistant with the team. It’s enjoyable. Still, my main focus is here. I don’t think we’ve achieved what we want to, and I think every player would tell you that. The women's team goes full boat Aug. 16. Our first game is Aug. 30, so one week (of practice) with no class, then one week with class in session.

What are your other duties with the program?

I'm in charge of transportation for the entire athletic department, and I also do game administration for men's and women's basketball.

Does transportation keep you pretty busy?

I'm fairly organized. As long as coaches hand me what they need in a timely manner, it’s manageable. It’s just time-consuming with 24 sports. In fall and winter, it’s not too bad, but in the spring when it rains and you have baseball and softball cancellations and you’ve got to move games, that’s when a lot of phone calls take place.

What are your other interests on campus?

I have been on different search committees and those types of things. But this takes up so much of your time. A lot of people may think it’s 9 to 5, but you can throw time out the window when it comes to athletics. You can get a phone call at 7 a.m. and a call at 10 p.m. There are days during the summer when I’m out recruiting so often, I don’t know what day it is. I leave for Delaware tomorrow for three days, then it’s Boston for two days -- you’re just all over the map.

What are your off-campus interests?

Just enjoying my down time. Hang out with my girlfriend. Hang out with my buddies who are here in the building. I'm a big family guy, so I spend time with family whenever I can. I have a niece and nephew who are very active, so I try to get to their sporting events and such. My niece has been to our soccer camp a few times. My nephew for the past three years has been to Coach (Ed) Gosek's hockey camp in the summer, so I get over to Marano to cool off a bit in July and August and watch my nephew. They are so welcoming to campers. I enjoy traveling, but nine times out of 10, it's for work. I do enjoy recruiting and traveling -- connecting with old friends and teammates wherever you go is always fun.

No hobbies? 

No, I'm a pretty basic guy. I don't take life too seriously, I don't take myself too seriously. So not a ton of hobbies -- just simple things, little things. I'm a big sports guy, I enjoy watching a lot of sports. I'm actually more of a fan of basketball (on TV) than I am of any other sport, but this is a great time of year for soccer with the Women's World Cup going on, the Gold Cup, Copa América -- so soccer is always on TV, which is fantastic. The women have gotten better. The countries that have good men's teams are now putting money in the women's game.

What do you think this win by the women's World Cup team will do for the sport?

You are going to see an increase in youth soccer, attendance at games and sponsorship. This team showed great confidence and togetherness in the face of enormous pressure. I hope young kids see the positive impact having confidence has on every aspect of life. This team are great role models for young girls and hope their legacy last a long time.  

How do the Lakers look for this fall?

I think we are going be good. We've got a lot of talented players. We're going to be young -- we're bringing in 13 freshmen. In this conference in any sport, it's going to be hard to win with a lot of freshmen. But I think the outlook is good. The talent we have coming back mixed with the talent we have coming in, I think it could be a very successful season.