After five seasons at the helm of Buena Vista University men’s soccer, West Virginia native Ben McArthur has stepped down from the DIII program to take over as interim head coach of the Northwest College Trappers. His first day on campus will be Monday.
“I’m excited to work with Northwest College,” McArthur said. “Region IX is a tough region for junior colleges, so I’m looking forward to the challenge. Northwest College has a reputation for supporting its students for success, and that’s important to me. I want to work at a college that is going to help students be successful.”
McArthur was a four-year starter at Davis and Elkins College, a DII program in West Virginia, while obtaining his B.A. in hospitality management. After graduation, he spent time in Utah and Idaho, where he met his wife Janelle, a Cody native. Her familiarity with the area and having family in close proximity made the decision to apply for the NWC position an easy one.
“We’ve vacationed in Cody over the years, and spent time in Powell, so we know the area pretty well,” he said. “For us, it’s an opportunity to move closer to family. I think good things are happening at Northwest, and [athletic director] Brian Erickson’s vision for the athletic department is awesome.”
Erickson said the athletic department is excited to have McArthur on board, and with his familiarity with the area and family close by, the situation is a win-win.
“He [McArthur] was really interested in moving to this area, and we felt like he was a great fit for what we needed as a coach,” Erickson said. “He wants to put his roots down. He has family, and he sees Northwest as stability. I think it’s a great fit for coaching, as well as off the field.”
Calling McArthur a “go-getter,” Erickson said the young coach gave the impression during the interview process that he was ready to go to work.
“[McArthur’s] not going to mess around, he’s a hard-working guy ready to get after it every day,” he said. “He’s already started recruiting, and he’s going to get it done in the classroom. [At Buena Vista] he always got it done in the classroom, turning the program around there. And I think he’ll recruit the type of kids that can succeed at Northwest, athletically and academically.”
After three seasons as an assistant coach at Waldorf University in Iowa, McArthur took over the reins at Buena Vista in 2014, compiling a 19-66-4 record in five seasons with the Beavers.
“The experience at BVU was positive. I grew so much as a coach there,” he said. “My family and I just felt like it was the right time, that when the job came open at Northwest, it was just a no-brainer. I get to work with a little bit different demographic of students, especially working with the international students, who will be a big part of this program.”
A father to five sons, ranging in age from 1 to 8, McArthur said he gravitated to coaching because of the competitive nature of the profession, as well as the relationships he’s able to foster with players.
“I just resigned from my current position, and I got a message last night from a player that said, ‘Hey coach, thanks for all you’ve done for me, you believed in me and gave me the opportunity to play college soccer and pushed me to be better in the classroom.’ And he graduated two years ago,” he said. “That kind of relationship means a lot to me.”
As for his coaching style, McArthur said his team will be organized defensively, first and foremost. With the level of talent he hopes to have back from last year’s squad, he expects the Trappers to be aggressive while able to maintain defensive integrity.
“You can’t give up silly goals and expect to win a bunch of games,” he said. “So we will be organized defensively, and we will attack. We want to put people under pressure and put the ball in the back of the net. It can be a fun way to play soccer when you defend as a group and attack as a group.”
McArthur will hit the ground running next week, with a team meeting already scheduled for Monday and a practice on Tuesday.
“We’ll have some spring practices this year, so that should be fun,” he said. “I’ll get to know the guys a little bit, and they’ll get to know me.”
With five kids, life can get pretty hectic, but McArthur said he wouldn’t want it any other way. Family is important, and that’s a message he’s tried to instill in his players during each stop in his coaching journey.
“I have five boys, and they are awesome. I love being a dad,” he said, laughing. “I want my players to look back and say coach McArthur was a loyal husband and an awesome dad. Those two things are very important to me, and I will continue to push that on my players ... Of course we want to win, but it’s not all about that. I want them to be great at everything they do in life.”
McArthur has already started recruiting for next season, reaching out to players in all the western states, as well as international students. And despite the interim tag, it’s his hope to stick around for a while, if for no other reason than to have his five boys play for the new coach at Powell High School.
“Wait until coach Dave [Gilliatt] at the high school gets ahold of my boys in a few years,” he chuckled. “It’s going to be a party.”