Aside from the men’s soccer team being the defending WIAC conference champions, one of the reasons new head coach Tony Guinn said he was happy to be coaching at UW-Whitewater this year was the 45-minute commute from home.
While some may cringe at the idea of a 45-minute commute, it’s worth it for Guinn, who makes the daily commute to spend more time with his son, Shaymus, who has had Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, for the last three years. In the fall of 2011, Shaymus was diagnosed with leukemia in addition to Ewing’s Sarcoma.
A Milwaukee resident, Guinn used to make a nine-hour total commute to be closer to his son when he was head coach at Division-I Western Illinois University in Macomb, Ill.
“It was really tough,” Guinn said. “It’s nice to be closer to home.”
Guinn said everyone in the athletic department has been helpful and kind toward him in his transition. He also said coming into a university with D-I caliber facilities and an athletic department with a winning tradition is a great opportunity.
“The facilities at UW-Whitewater are better than all of the D-I facilities in Western Illinois’ conference [Summit League],” Guinn said. “It’s phenomenal.”
Guinn, who compiled a record of 49-37-10 at Western Illinois, has coached the Warhawks to a 3-0 start this season. In addition to the perfect start, the ’Hawks haven’t given up a goal, posting three consecutive shutouts.
Unlike former head coach Greg Henschel, Guinn will only be coaching the men’s team instead of both the women’s and men’s programs. Athletic Director Paul Plinske said he decided to hire two separate head coaches this year to ensure both programs the best chance to be national championship contenders.
“People who don’t coach don’t really think about the stuff that goes on behind the scenes,” Guinn said. “I have 28 athletes to get to know, 28 people who I need to be there for and make sure they are doing well academically. If I coached both teams, I’d have to worry about more than 50 people.”
Senior captain midfielder Logan Fye said it’s nice having a coach who can focus solely on the men’s team.
“It’s been different having a sole coach for each program,” Fye said. “[But] it’s beneficial to both teams because it allows each coach to focus on [only] one team.”
As for the athletic department, Guinn said he notices a stark contrast at UW-Whitewater as opposed to schools he has coached for in the past.
“They want to win,” Guinn said. “Nobody says it outright but it’s obvious.”
Guinn, who is one of only four head coaches in the history of men’s soccer at UW-Whitewater, said he called his predecessor Henschel to compliment him on the talented team he inherited.
Being a part of an athletic program that has the drive to win along with focus on making a difference is what Guinn said draws him to coaching.
“Young people make [me] feel better,” Guinn said. “Young people make the world better. It’s not just about winning and losing but about making a difference in people’s lives.”
Not only will Guinn be making a difference in his players’ lives but also in his son Shaymus’ while he battles cancer. For Guinn, it’s good to be home.