Sports doesn’t mean a lot to Stephen McGarry Jr.
They mean everything.
McGarry, 32, is a 2008 graduate of Our Lady of Confidence Day School, which was housed at Cardinal Dougherty, and ever since he was a kid, with the exception of his family and friends, sports has been the most important thing in his life.
He’s a great athlete. He’s competed in the Special Olympics. He’s now playing volleyball, but in his life, he’s competed in softball, floor hockey, bowling, baseball and his absolute favorite sport, soccer.
And for the past few seasons, he’s served as an assistant coach on the Holy Family University’s women’s soccer team.
McGarry is always around sports, but he enjoys the friendships and relationships he’s built through sports.
“It’s always been this way,” said his mom, Kit. “I think if he could move in at Holy Family, he would. He just loves being around them and he loves coaching and helping them and becoming friends with everyone. He just loves it.”
It’s hard to say when McGarry became a sports fanatic. He doesn’t remember not loving the games. It probably started because both his dad was an athlete growing up. Stephen Sr. played sports at North Catholic. His mom attended Little Flower.
“I just like it a lot,” he said. “I love coaching. Soccer is my favorite. I like the players, they’re all my friends. And I like to win.”
Wins are nice, but McGarry’s love of the game is much deeper than just victories or even championships.
He enjoys meeting people, and once you meet him, you’re pretty much his friend for life.
It’s why he’s become a stable at Archbishop Ryan High School athletic events, through Athletes Helping Athletes, an organization that connects local special-needs athletes with mainstream student-athletes in a spirit of friendship for their mutual benefit and inspiration. You’ll see McGarry, who was born with kabuki syndrome, either courtside or on the sidelines, cheering his Raiders on.
“He started with Ryan through Athletes Helping Athletes,” his mom said. “That is an amazing organization. It’s so good, and he loves going to those games. They don’t have it at Little Flower, or he would be there! But he loves Ryan, those kids treat him great.”
Last year’s president of the club, Meghan Kidd, is now studying at West Chester. A few weeks back, McGarry was at the college to watch a soccer game and he reunited with her.
“She’s a very good friend,” McGarry said.
“He ran up and gave her a big hug, he was so happy to see her,” mom said. “He almost knocked her over. That’s the type of things that group does. It’s the type of things sports does.”
Sports has given McGarry many great memories, including a chance to meet his hero. That might rank up there with the greatest memory of his sporting life.
“I met Carli Lloyd,” he said. “She was so nice. We are friends.”
“Carli is so down to earth, he didn’t know he was going to meet her, it was a surprise that was set up and he loved it,” Kit said. “She’s the best in the world, and is so nice. They actually keep in touch on Twitter. They talk there.”
Lloyd is just one of many people who have become his friend.
Among his best friends are Brian Mitchell, a former North Catholic football star who helped him get the coaching job at Holy Family, and Pat Morris, another North grad who starred for the Philadelphia Kixx and is now coaching the St. Joe’s University’s soccer team.
No matter whom he is with or what he is doing, he is making people happy and better for knowing him.
“Steve is a major asset to have for the girls,” said Holy Family head coach Jill Reeves. “He’s passionate about soccer, always watching high school teams play to recruit players. When he’s with us, he always keeps the girls’ spirits high and always makes sure they stay focused.
“Win or lose, he lets them know he is proud of them.”
He’s also a pretty good coach when it comes to X’s and O’s.
“One of my favorite things about him is that I’m not even walking off the field after a game and he sends me a scouting report on the team we are scheduled to play next. He really is an amazing addition to our staff.”
His passion for sports doesn’t end at playing or coaching.
He has a YouTube channel where he discusses sports and interviews athletes. He also is pretty good at playing video games and a savvy fantasy football player.
“He only plays sports,” his mom said. “Only sports games. Everything is sports. His entire life is sports, he’s just always been that way.”
Well, not everything.
On top of his friends, one of the closest people to him is his Goddaughter, Ellie Patterson, his niece.
“They have such a bond,” Kit said. “She’s 2, and they just love each other. He’s her Bobo, that’s what she calls him.”
“I love her,” he said. “She loves being around me, and I love being around her.”
She might be one of the closest people to him, but it’s a sentiment most people who know him have.
“He’s a very happy guy and everyone loves him,” his mom said. “People call my husband Stephen’s dad now, he’s not even Stephen anymore. But it’s because everyone knows him. Everyone loves him.”