Liam McGehee‘s progression as an athlete will continue next fall when he attends Whitworth University (Spokane, Wash.) to play soccer.
For all we know, McGehee’s “American” football career is done. The senior center midfielder for the Mililani Trojans (7-1-1) in soccer spent his falls as a sophomore and junior playing for the school’s football team as a place-kicker.
This school year, McGehee decided to concentrate on soccer by opting off of the football team in the fall (even though he was pressed into action for one game due to an injury to friend Kaulana Navares), and now he and the Trojans are about to begin their quest in the OIA playoffs and possibly the Division I state tournament.
But he’ll always remember those football moments that included a 47-yard field goal on a muddy field his junior season as well as that emergency insertion into the game against Liberty (Henderson, Nev.) as a senior.
And he won’t forget the physical part of football. Yes, it gets physical for kickers, too.
“I got tackled in practice a few times, but overall my linemen played really, really strong,” McGehee said after a Thursday soccer practice. “Two or three times it happened. Whenever the offense scored a TD in practice, they would usually follow up with a PAT. But once in a while, the defense would come with the blitz to see if our line can hold up. The first time I got tackled, since it hadn’t happened before, it caught me by surprise. From that, I learned to be ready for the unexpected and that applies to any aspect in life. But that first time, I was like, ‘What the heck. This is practice.”
As for tackling other players, McGehee said, “There were situations where I could have tackled others, but I didn’t know how to tackle people. It’s harder than it looks.”
McGehee is the subject of a Honolulu Star-Advertiser feature story in Tuesday’s newspaper.
As the Trojans head into the soccer postseason, McGehee is hoping for big things.
“Everybody believes in each other,” he said. “We have what it takes. We push each other every day. We’re growing on and off the field. That’s the main thing. As long as we have chemistry and everybody buys in to do what we’ve got to do.”
The Trojans have won six D-I state championships and 16 OIA titles, but their last trophy in each came in 2015.
McGehee’s head coach knows Liam very well. That’s because it’s his father, Steve McGehee, who feels fortunate that Liam is a team-oriented player who listens to what the staff of 11 coaches say.
“He’s all about what we need to do as a team and that is one of his strong attributes,” Steve McGehee said about his son. “And he has improved significantly on the defensive side. I try to treat him no differently than other players. I — or more often my assistants — coach him if he needs to be coached. If he deserves a pat on the back, we give him that.”
Off the field, McGehee is involved in an environmental club at Mililani, and has gone to Kahoolawe to camp three times.
“What I love about it is I get to learn about the Hawaiian culture and the background of the island,” he said. “It’s insane and sad because of how much damage it endured throughout 40 or 50 years.”
Kahoolawe was used as a U.S. military training and live bombing exercise site, starting after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and it wasn’t officially halted until 1990.
“I enjoy knowing that I’m contributing to something bigger — helping it toward being how it was back then in the future. We learn about different parts of the island, about Hawaiian culture and contribute to restoring the land, whether it’s by cleaning up trash or cutting down weeds growing on trails or tidying up gardens. … As long as we’re contributing to the overall state of the island.”