NEW BREMEN — Jason McGaharan fielded some sympathetic responses from people he told in the last week that he’s going to be the new head football coach at New Bremen.
“They’ve looked at me and said, ‘Ooh, that’s going to be challenging,’” McGaharan said.
Challenging McGaharan can do.
McGaharan, who was introduced as New Bremen’s new head coach at a press conference at New Bremen High School on Wednesday night, is no stranger to overcoming life’s obstacles.
“People might back away from challenges, but challenges get me excited.,” McGaharan said. “Challenges get me ready to go. I’m excited to prove people wrong.”
McGaharan overcame two bouts with ulcerative colitis while in high school at Northwood, a suburban Toledo school, to become an All-Ohio running back and state track qualifier.
The disease twice threatened his life as a freshman and junior, taking more than 50 pounds off his body. He spent six weeks at the Cleveland Clinic as a freshman.
“I withered down to nothing,” McGaharan said. “Everything I’d worked so hard went away from me. At one point they didn’t know if I’d make it.”
After working his way back to being a standout running back and state track qualifier as a sophomore, the disease returned.
“I went from 170 pounds to 110 pounds,” McGaharan said.
He had his large intestine removed and “had his plumbing fixed” three months later in another surgery.
He played football between those two surgeries.
“We talked the doctor into letting me be the kicker between my two surgeries,” McGaharan said. “In about week four I was able to be kicker before I had the surgery to re-hook me up. Then I ran at the state track meet later that spring.”
McGaharan played a season at Ohio Northern before transferring to Bowling Green State University and helping out his high school alma mater as an assistant football coach.
McGaharan has been an assistant coach at Sidney since 2007, recently serving as the program’s offensive coordinator.
He also went around the country as a motivational speaker.
Now he’ll be charged with motivating a New Bremen football program that didn’t win a game a season ago.
McGaharan said he wants to get New Bremen “to the top half of the MAC in a year-in and year-out basis.”
On the front packet of information he handed out to prospective players last week, he emphasized three points.
“Our goal every year will be to be the hardest working, most disciplined, best conditioned team in the MAC,” McGaharan said. “If we do those three things, we’ll always be in a position to be competitive.”
Taking over a program that went 0-10 last season and hasn’t had an above-.500 record since 2004’s playoff run, McGaharan sees opportunity at New Bremen.
“When I got a chance to come into the school last week and see some of the guys walking around these halls and how athletic they are, I said, ‘We can do some things here,’” McGaharan said.
McGaharan will stress running the football on the offensive side of the ball.
“One thing I’ve always believed in is that you have to run the football,” McGaharan said. “The type of offense that I’m going to bring here is based on the run. We’re going to establish the run and we’re going to control games through the run, but at the same time we’re definitely be an offense that is able to throw the ball around when we need to and when we want to.”
McGaharan favors a fast, attacking-style defense. “It’s based on speed and pressure and getting pressure from that front four,” McGaharan said.
New Bremen received 28 applicants for the position.