Meet Kevin MacNeill, UW football’s new associate head coach, defensive, and recruiting coordinator


Kevin MacNeill brings quite the resume to the table.

On Feb. 13, it was announced that MacNeill comes to UW to be the football team’s new associate head coach, defensive, and recruiting coordinator. He comes fresh off his time at the University of Western Ontario, where he led the Western Mustangs to the Yates Cup, the top trophy of the Ontario University Athletics football conference, three consecutive times. Before that, he coached at the University of Guelph, where his defensive coordination helped the Guelph Gryphons to the 2015 Yates Cup. His experience also extends to coaching at the University of British Columbia, as well as being a positional coach and defense coordinator for Canada’s U-19 team.

MacNeill started out as a student athlete at Wilfrid Laurier University, in the linebacker position, after which he worked as an assistant football coach at the school for four years.  

As defensive coordinator, MacNeill will be coordinating around 60 athletes and seven positional coaches. He acknowledged the challenge of the position as he pointed out that “some of the top offenses in the country are here.”

MacNeill emphasized the importance of putting student athletes in a position to be successful, which includes “tremendous preparation” and positivity in his teams. “It’s very important that we have a great group of focused student athletes that will prepare and be in great positions which will lead to us to be able to make big plays… but ultimately connecting to the grind and enjoying the grit of it is so important.” 

He spoke of the “exceptional culture” present in UW’s football team, and expressed his excitement at the fellowship of everyone on it. “The players are all extremely hard working, and that’s the kind of first thing that really, really jumped out at me,” he said, noting the camaraderie present not just in the locker rooms, but in the coaching staff as well. 

Of his recruiting philosophy, MacNeill explained that he emphasizes player character and those that are connected with the student experience. “I’m not like a ‘recruit-at-all-costs’ type of mentality. I’m a, ‘let’s find people that connect with what Waterloo, the university, is.’” He also praised the co-op structure UW offers, stating, “I think it’s just a tremendous opportunity for student athletes to get real world work experience, you know, learn how to write a resume and interview.”

MacNeill explained that he, along with the other coaches on the team, aim to create a good balance for the student athletes. He credited his predecessors and the other coaches for having created a balance for the athletes between their studies and athletics. 

“Success in the classroom leads to success on the football field or on the basketball court or the volleyball court,” MacNeill said. “A lot of the skills that it takes to be successful in the classroom relate directly to the football field.”