Tennis Coach Bob MacKay Serves Up Life Skills

Sherlyn Ann Maguit, RJ Saunders, Staff Writers

Perhaps the most important quality one needs to coach a sports team is enthusiasm. It takes years to build up coaching skills, experience and a good reputation.

Tennis coach Bob MacKay, 71, embodies all of these qualities and more. He first set foot on the Glendale Community College campus 48 years ago. This is where his legacy as a player and coach began.

MacKay attended Loyola High School in Los Angeles and in 1976 and graduated from Cal State LA with a bachelor’s degree in recreational education.

His mission statement, on and off the court is the will to compete. Mental toughness is a must when you play for Coach MacKay. He prepares his players for life by demonstrating the value of mental preparedness in order to achieve goals.

MacKay has coached almost every sport, but has been the Vaqueros Men’s Tennis coach for 12 years. He has won the Western State Conference Championship twice, once in 2005 and most recently in 2014.

MacKay will add one more accomplishment to his illustrious coaching career on May 10, when he will receive the ACE Award (Athletes with Character and Ethics).

“Everything you get in life you earn,” said MacKay. “It doesn’t matter if you have been coaching for 40 years or 10 years. I’m a strong advocate that you earn things in life. You get what you deserve.”

Assistant coach Christopher Tissot played for MacKay before joining the coaching staff.

“This award is kind of a culmination of the great work that he’s done with this program the past 12 years,” said Tissot. “He began coaching [tennis] in 2003, and he’s turned the tennis program around tremendously.”

MacKay worked as a manager in the Glendale Parks and Recreation Community Services Department for many years before he took on the head-coaching job. However, he admits that when they first asked him to be the head coach he did not accept the job.

“I turned down the job the first time because I was teaching as well as working and I couldn’t leave,” said MacKay. “ However, some members of the El Vaquero Raquet Club asked if I’d reconsider, and I eventually did.”

Though MacKay has done an exceptional job with the tennis team for 12 years, his first sport was baseball. He played for the Vaqueros baseball team while attending GCC as a student in the 1960s.

“Back then, they had an intramural program here at GCC that consisted of 10 sports,” said MacKay. “I signed up for all 10, and I won all 10.”

“It’s interesting to hear some of his stories and some of the things he has accomplished,” said tennis player Dro Demegerdichian.

Not only does he teach tennis, but he teaches his team the importance of having life skills. He believes that it is his job to make his players see that they can make it to the next level if they set goals in their life.

“I’m a tennis coach teaching them life skills,” said MacKay.

To the team, he is more than a coach; he is their friend and most of all a father figure to some. The relationship he has with his team is something to which every coach should aspire.

“During my first semester here, Coach MacKay helped me a lot,” said tennis player Santiago Segovia. “Since all of my family were in Argentina, coach would always ask me how I was doing, if I was okay, and he mainly helped me with my academics.”

“When it comes to my players,” MacKay said. “I want them to realize not only the importance of tennis, but the importance of getting an education.”

While working for the city of Glendale, MacKay worked with the California Institution for Men a state prison in Chino. Under the Glendale Unified District he taught a recreational program for 15 years. It allowed him to teach life experience to at-risk high school students.

With the consent of the students parents, he began taking his students on field trips with him to Chino to show what happens if the wrong path is taken in life. At the prison, he taught inmates to play tennis.

“I began to take my students with me to make them realize that someday, if their behavior didn’t get any better, this is where they would end up,” said MacKay.

MacKay had a great deal of success with his 2005 team which was inducted into the GCC Athletic Hall of Fame. At least two of his players also had success.

Dylan Kim went to the State Singles Championship in 2007, marking the first time a Glendale College men’s tennis player was the state singles championship ranking number one in the state of California. That same year he also won the ITA All-American in singles and Western State Conference MVP.

Alex Sarkissian won regional and state singles champion in 2011.

Sarkissian, became the first player in Glendale College history to win the Ojai trophy not only in singles, but in doubles. In June of 2011, he was awarded the ITA National Player of the Year and Western State Conference MVP.

“There has never been a player who hasn’t liked playing for Coach MacKay,” said Tissot. “He’s always understood the Psychological aspect of the game when it comes to his players, and he brings out their full potential.”

Alex Leon, sports information director at GCC has known and worked with MacKay for a decade. Leon knows that MacKay has had great success over the years.

“It’s never been trying to get the best player with him,” said Leon. “He’s always looking for the full package. And what he does is not only make you a great player, but a great person. He wants his players to be great on and off the court.”

Every legendary career eventually comes to an end. 2015 will be his farewell season.

“I think the bottom line, it’s time to call it [quits],” said Mackay. “After 41 years in the city of Glendale, 25 years as a pro at Glendale College, 12 years as a coach and two state champions, I’ve had great results.”