“I’m able to connect with players and coaches in a way that I couldn’t in the past. I’m able to explain concepts in Polish, and also express some dark South Texas coaching humor” – says Ralph Mcgaw, a new member of Wieliczka Dragons coaching staff who has been living in Poland since 2003.
You are the newest member of Wieliczka Dragons coaching staff. What has convinced you to start the cooperation?
First and foremost is my personal knowledge of the character of leadership at the top. Rolf is not only extremely passionate and deeply committed to the success of the Dragons, but he’s also a fully competent business person who understands how to build a strong organization, the backbone of any healthy sports team or company.
Once we met together with some of the coaching staff in early December of last year, I was convinced that Wieliczka was the best place practical fit for me, where I could make a real contribution as well as continue to thrive.
Upon meeting together with Coach Morgan it’s hard to describe the experience. In English, we say he’s “cut from different cloth” which means he’s got a different set of values, standards, and expectations. He genuinely cares about other people, he demands excellence. He’s the kind of person you might encounter in GROM or GOPR. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside people like him in my military career and if you survive their trials, you come out transformed and a better person. I haven’t had a real mentor in a few decades, and I’m fortunate to be challenged by him.
In Polish American football, you have worked in many clubs. How could you assess Wieliczka Dragons’ ambitions and possibilities from this perspective?
The Dragons are built on a rock-solid foundation because the Team doesn’t have to deal with the same structural defects. The administration isn’t made up of players or coaches, but of people who excel in business skill. Players aren’t selected based on feelings but instead on a strict set of criteria, which reinforce the culture of success.
It takes a certain separate mindset from other Polish guys to play American football in Poland. It takes another set of criteria concerning character, integrity, and self-discipline from among Polish American football players to become a Dragon.
When you have a group of committed men who are willing to make greater sacrifices than others and for their Teammates to achieve success, I ask you who can stand against them?
You’ve been living here for almost 20 years. This overview of the American football scene in Poland is an advantage compared to other foreign coaches?
I’ve never lived so long in one area as long as I have in Poland, and the country has enriched my life. I’m able to connect with players and coaches in a way that I couldn’t in the past. While I’ve gained familiarity, I’ve lost the element of being “culturally exotic” so it isn’t only positive. I’m able to explain concepts in Polish, and also express some dark South Texas coaching humor. (smile)
How have an American found himself in Poland and why did you decide to stay so long?
I was originally invited to teach pilots in Poland because of degrees in both science and education, as well as foreign languages. I stayed because I’m stubborn. Now I’ve got two, lovely young “łobuzy” (uśmiech) and I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.
Will coronavirus bring Wieliczka Dragons plans down? Should we slowly think about a season… 2021?
Asking for a prediction is like looking into a crystal ball, but if the immediate past is any guide, I’d say we’ll have a season in 2021. Though looking at the past to predict the future is like driving a car while looking in the rear-view mirror.
Interview by Damian Juszczyk
Wieliczka Dragons Press Office