Gorches: Like him or not, MC’s Megyese gets job done
By Steve T. Gorches 648-3141 or firstname.lastname@example.org February 16, 2012 11:18PM
Michigan City coach Mike Megyese watches the clock in the second period during the game against Merrillville at Michigan City earlier this month. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 18, 2012 8:23AM
It was Dec. 13 and Michigan City was hosting Merrillville in what was at the time the game of the season.
The Pirates were 7-0. The Wolves were 6-0. These were the consensus two best teams in the region and two of the top 10 in Class 4A in the state.
Merrillville’s players had just been announced, and MC coach Mike Megyese walked across the court toward the student section, raising his hands above his head as he successfully pumped up the kids just before the lights were dimmed for the traditional MC introductions.
It’s not something many high school coaches do. In fact, in more than 25 years of watching games, I can’t recall any coach doing that.
Likely, it’s one of the reasons Megyese — in his third year coaching the Wolves after a successful run at South Bend St. Joseph’s — isn’t well-liked among region coaches. It’s not the only possible reason.
He’s confident in his team and himself — borderline cocky.
He’s honest — brutally honest.
“If I want to say something, I’m going to say it,” he said.
And on the sidelines during games, he can be crazy at times, pumping his fist after made baskets or openly showing disappointment at missed shots or bad calls from officials.
“Yeah, he’s crazy,” said MC boys coach John Boyd, who’s been known to have some of the same character traits as Megyese over the years as head coach at MC and West Side.
When Boyd calls you crazy, you must really be crazy.
“I’m 6-foot-6 and I’m very animated on the sidelines. People don’t like that and that’s fine,” Megyese said.
But it has to be more than that, right? Other coaches are animated during games, but they aren’t public enemy No. 1. The investigator in me had to find out what it is.
“Do I want (people to not like me)? No, but I’m a competitive guy,” he said. “I wasn’t well-liked at St. Joe’s either. But you know what? One thing I’ve been lucky about — and I say lucky because I’ve had great staffs everywhere I’ve been and I’ve had great kids — when I’m the head man, guess what, wins follow me.”
There’s that hint of cockiness, but he’s absolutely right, with his 257-93 record over 15 years as evidence.
At least Megyese doesn’t let his competitive nature prevent him from touting opposing players. He thinks Merrillville’s freshman post player Victoria Gaines “is going to be a beast” and will get even better in upcoming years, and that Crown Point senior Courtney Kvachkoff is among the top players in the area.
He also attends meetings downstate pumping up region players for all-star teams and postseason honors.
Not enough coaches follow his lead in that department.
But for some reason, it doesn’t matter to the coaching fraternity. Maybe it’s that he doesn’t promote himself and brag about the things he does for other kids. Guess that will have to be my job.
“I believe what I believe; this is how I am,” said Megyese, who admitted one of his favorite college coaches to follow was former Indiana University powder keg Bob Knight. “I respect (other coaches). When they come to my gymnasium, I’m usually the first one to greet them, shake their hand and ask if they need anything. But the bottom line is that I’m going to say how I feel, and if people don’t like it, oh well.
“I’m in this business to win basketball games. If I can be friends with you too, that’s great. If that doesn’t happen, I don’t care because my job is to win for Michigan City High School and be committed to Michigan City girls basketball. My job is to help my girls at Michigan City as much as possible. I don’t care about (other teams) during games. When I’m playing that game, I’m there to beat your (butt).”
And Michigan City appreciates him for it. He has a great relationship with everyone from the superintendent to the athletic director. As long as he wins basketball games and runs a disciplined program, I’m sure those superiors don’t care if other coaches don’t like Megyese.
As for his players, they respect him and will run through a wall for him.
“He sticks up for us,” said junior Aubria Clifton, who’s season ended in the fourth quarter of the first Merrillville game when she tore her ACL. “He’s into the game as much as we are. He just wants to have fun.”
A prime example of sticking up for his players came at last year’s Duneland Conference coaches meeting after the Wolves had won the regular season title. Votes were being cast for the all-conference team. Megyese had a player who averaged more than 15 points per game and had some big games in helping MC win the title. The voting system is that whoever you think is the best player gets eight points and you put eight players on your ballot, going down to one point for the eighth best.
Megyese was vociferously angry about his player not being on one of the coach’s ballots, getting totally snubbed by that anonymous coach.
“You don’t have to like me, you don’t have to like my school, but don’t take it out on that kid,” he said. “I think (coaches) take the things I do out of context. I’m here for the kids.”
And that’s all that should matter.