Joe McBride seems to have been destined for a life in football.
And, when he leads the McKinney Boyd High School Broncos onto the field for the first time in August, it will mark a new season not only in the history of a school that has known only one head football coach over the course of its 12 year history, but also in the life of a man who has returned to his true passion: coaching.
Born in Brownwood, Texas, where legendary high school football coach Gordon Wood won seven state championships, McBride started life in a town so immersed in football, it was practically in the drinking water.
“My mom and dad were big Brownwood Lions,” McBride muses. “Being born in Brownwood, immediately I knew how important football was to the community. My parents had both graduated in Brownwood, and I just remember Gordon Wood and all that was going on at that time when I was young.”
But, it was after his parents moved the family to Lewisville that football truly took root in McBride’s heart. He recalls a defining moment with great clarity—one summer morning when he was drawn out of his new home into the creeping August heat by a commotion that seemed to be coming from practically just outside his bedroom window.
“I thought, ‘Man, what is all that?’ remembers McBride. “It just sounded like whistles and people having fun. So, I went running out of the house, and there was a football practice going on. I ran across this creek and pressed my face up to that fence, and I just watched kids practicing football and coaches coaching—and, I just remember thinking, ‘That’s got to be the greatest thing in the world.’”
He was hooked.
After a successful high school career with the Farmers of Lewisville High School, McBride went on to play linebacker and then defensive end for Texas Tech University on a full scholarship.
His first jobs out of college took him to San Angelo, Magnolia and Austin until he headed farther north and landed the defensive coordinator job at Hebron High School in 1999. Over the next seven years, his defenses were regularly rated among the area’s top squads, and they helped Hebron advance to the Area Finals in 2002 and 2003 and earn a district championship in 2004.
Then, in 2005, Hebron brought home the 4A Division II State Championship, and McBride was ready to move into a new role.
From 2006–2009 he put together a 24–6 record as the head coach of Liberty High School in Frisco, but it was at Coppell High School over the following five seasons that his star would truly rise.
During his tenure with Coppell, McBride put together a stellar 51–10 record, led his teams to the playoffs four times and earned district Coach of the Year Honors in 2010, 2012 and 2013.
After a short stint in Dripping Springs, his success would eventually lead to a new job offer in 2015 to serve as the athletic director for Coppell ISD. For McBride, the timing was perfect as the new duties gave him more time to enjoy watching his younger son complete his own high school football career.
Eventually, though, the time away from the players and the field of competition would prove to be a missing piece that was just too big for McBride to ignore.
So, once his children were out of school, McBride began to reassess his options. “My thirst and hunger to be out there with those athletes and coach…it was igniting me, and I couldn’t wait to do it again,” he says.
When the head coaching job at McKinney Boyd opened up, McBride was ready to jump back in, and McKinney ISD Director of Athletics Shawn Pratt was happy to welcome him.
“Coach McBride is one of the most respected coaches in the state of Texas, and we are excited to have him come lead McKinney Boyd’s football program,” said Pratt. “He has a passion for kids and a passion for coaching that is second to none.”
We caught up with McBride last week, and he was gracious enough to carve a few minutes out of a very busy schedule to talk with us about football, coaching and the impact that both can have on the life of an athlete…
What do you love about coaching?
Well, I love the competition. You know, coaching puts life in your bones. I mean, I love the kids. The kids just ignite you, and after coaching all those years…I just love being around the kids. When I became an athletic director for a few years, that was the one thing that I immediately realized…“Wow! I miss those kids really bad.”
Who inspired you when you were a player?
I think, number one—first and foremost—was Neal Wilson. Coach Neal Wilson. He was my high school coach. He was the head football coach in Lewisville for a long time. Then, when they started dividing the schools up and the growth started happening, he became the athletic director and he just…at a time when I was very vulnerable and going through a lot with my own family, he stood in the gap for me. And, I just saw such an honorable man that gave me incredible direction in a time I was starving for attention and starving to be seen and heard. He saw some ability, and he spent time to be the right kind of man in my life, and the next thing you know, I wanted to be like him.
One of the greatest memories of my life was praying with him before he died. He was just a man’s man, and he loved us kids and everything was about us.
You’re at a new school and a new district. What is your vision for Boyd and the athletes who will play for you?
You know, you come in here like this and you’ve had a coach that’s been here so long; there’s going to be memories and some emotional attachment with Coach Drake—especially some of those older kids and guys that have been with him. And, I get that, so my deal is just to come in and be me.
I played Coach Drake, and I have great respect for him and what he did here. And, I wish him nothing but the best. I’m focused on really just building relationships with those kids, building some trust…and making sure that they understand that I’m just me. I’m not trying to be anybody else. I have my own cultures that I like to push. I have my own drills. I have my own disciplines. I have my characteristics that I want in my own program, and so that’s just all I’m trying to do is just barrel straight ahead and be me and just make the main thing the main thing—and that’s the kids and getting this program to play at a high level as fast as I can.
How would you describe your coaching style?
You know what? I’m a disciplinarian. We’re going to do things right—but I’m relational. I don’t think I’m just so black and white that I don’t understand different types of kids or different buttons to push to motivate them. I want to teach kids that you’ve got to wake up and you’ve got to do things with discipline, and you’ve got to be intentional in what you do. You’ve got to have a plan and you’ve got to work hard. And, I just want to teach them all those things that will help us win football games here and create a great culture—but it also makes the man.
Because that same kid needs to go to college and get used to getting up in the morning. The rest of their life they have to get up and go somewhere. Now, they’ve got to get up and work out and do all that, but in college, they’ve got to get up and get an education. And, after that, they’ve got to get up and go do a job. The days of sleeping late and doing all that is not productive. So, teaching these kids how to do a lot of the right things that make good life choices are also the same things that will bring you a great culture and establish wins.
Football has faced more than its share of scrutiny over the last few years. What is it that makes this sport so great and loved by so many?
Football is in essence, everything you want this world to be. When I get out there and we’re competing and we’re practicing, there’s no racism. There’s no, ‘I’m better than you.’ Everybody’s just got to go to work and earn it, and we’ve got to trust and believe in each other.
It teaches you life and how you can embrace the guy next to you and put your feet in their shoes, and you really care about where they are and what they do and where they come from. You become a great advocate for just…a human being. And you exclude all the junk that’s going on in the world.
You learn how to bust your butt and play a role. Not everybody’s a superstar. In society today, there’s so much I, me and selfish ambition. Football’s a game where it’s not an individual thing. It’s all of us. You can take great talent, and if it’s not a good team, it’ll be disappointing.
So, I think football teaches all the great attributes: bust your butt, work hard, fulfill your role. What is your role? Where can I plug in with this group of guys that I respect and want to be around? Where can I plug in and help and get us to where we want to be?
What would you consider your greatest achievement?
Well, you know, that’s a hard question. I just know that I have relationships with people, with young men that have been done playing for a long time. I write them reference letters. I call in references for them. I help them get a job.
You know it’s just that bond and that kinship you create with coaching a kid. Give me your four years, and you’re with me during this time—but I’ll be here for a lifetime for you. So, it’s just the relationships.
Because you win games, and you lose games. You win trophies, and you don’t win trophies. You have ups and downs, but at the end of the day, what you remember when you walk away from it all are those relationships and the value the kids got from being in your program and seeing you the way I saw Neal Wilson.
That means a whole lot to me.