Vice principal at La Center, Gary McGarvie wants to give back to his college program
When Gary McGarvie first arrived at Linfield College in 1989, his only goal was to make the travel roster one season before he graduated.
One could say he underestimated his potential.
By epic proportions.
McGarvie, now the vice principal at La Center High School, is a member of the Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame. There is a YouTube video of his career highlights, describing him as a Linfield Legend.
Oh, and 33 years after arriving on campus, McGarvie is back on the travel roster for Linfield football.
As a broadcaster.
Sports fans in Clark County know McGarvie as the former head coach for Fort Vancouver football and then Union football. He also was the athletic director at Union High School before becoming the AD at Washougal.
He left athletic administration after this past school year. But before he was hired at La Center, he inquired with Linfield about helping on the broadcast team.
A couple months later, McGarvie spent a couple days in Alabama during the first week of the college football season to work his other job.
“It’s family. Linfield football is family,” McGarvie said. “I wanted to be part of that again. For me, it was just to get back involved with something that had such an amazing impact on my life. I wanted to give back.”
Of course, his real job had to approve of the side job and allow for a couple of days off for McGarvie to travel to Alabama. McGarvie said La Center has been fantastic about the situation.
The rest of the Linfield schedule calls for Saturday games in the Northwest.
That first game was memorable. Linfield practiced at the University of Alabama’s indoor facility. McGarvie got to tour the Bear Bryant Museum. Then the Wildcats beat Huntingdon 41-34 in Birmingham, with McGarvie giving his analysis on the Linfield broadcast.
“Oh, I was unbelievably nervous. Very nervous,” McGarvie said. “My wife was texting me: ‘You need to calm down.’ You don’t know what you don’t know. Trying to describe plays in 14 seconds on the radio is much more difficult than I anticipated. I think I regrouped. By the time I got to the second half, I was doing a lot better.”
No pressure, Gary McGarvie. You’re just replacing a legend. McGarvie is taking over for Dave Hansen, who either called play by play or did the analysis for Linfield football for the past 47 seasons.
Hansen, in fact, was the dean at Linfield when McGarvie was a student-athlete there.
“I’m lucky because I know him. We have a relationship. He and I met, and I talked to him about what to expect,” McGarvie said. “He’s going to give me some pointers.”
Broadcaster McGarvie has also had to take advice from Coach McGarvie.
“I have a hard time listening to myself. I’m forcing myself to listen to it,” he said. “It’s like when I coached, you make the kids watch film. This is my ‘film.’ I have to listen to it to get better.”
McGarvie has also reached out to Jim Wilson, a Fort Vancouver teacher and coach who has been the analyst for Oregon State football radio for years.
Wilson might be in a slighter bigger market — the Pac 12 has a bit more interest than the Northwest Conference of NCAA Division III. But McGarvie points out that Linfield football has a better resume than Oregon State.
“Anybody can do Oregon State games,” McGarvie joked. “Linfield has won four national championships. That’s all I have to say.”
McGarvie has a lot to learn about his new broadcast job, but he already has a passion for Linfield. He also acknowledges he has a soft spot for players from small high schools. He noticed right away, for example, that Linifield’s travel roster this year includes two players from Stevenson.
He still recalls how he just wanted to make the team for one year.
McGarvie is a 1989 graduate of Crescent High School in Joyce, Wash., where the Loggers play 8-man football.
“My high school had 80 kids in it. My goal when I left home was just to make the team. Obviously things turned out a little differently, in a positive way,” McGarvie said.
“But I thought I had a realistic goal. It was intimidating. When I walked on the field, there were more running backs at Linfield than there were players on my entire (high school) team. There were more players out for the team than there were students in my whole high school.”
In 2013, McGarvie was inducted into the Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame. He was a two-time All-American.
“What made Linfield special for me is they didn’t care where I was from,” McGarvie said. “They just cared about me as a person.”
He noted those two Stevenson players on the broadcast.
“Linfield doesn’t care where you’re from. At Linfield, they just want you to be you and support you,” he said.
Now, McGarvie is back working at a small school.
“This is a breath of fresh air,” he said of his role at La Center. “The kids are amazing. The staff here is so student-centered. It’s pretty neat to see.”
In the vice principal’s office at La Center High School is a Linfield Legend, who is back home on the weekends with his football program.
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