Focus On is a periodic feature profiling Upper Valley coaches and athletes in their own voices. Today, we meet Megan McFarland, coach of Hanover High’s volleyball team and Lebanon Middle School’s softball squad and a reading teacher at the latter institution.
Early Days: “I grew up in Chesterfield, N.H. It’s a little town between Keene and Brattleboro. My dad, Joe, is a branch manager for a water well company and my mom, Sue, is office manger for a construction company. My husband, Kevin, is a machine process technician at Hypertherm.”
Spotting Her Sport: “I was put into tee ball at age 3 and I played softball and did dance. I watched my mom play in a women’s recreational volleyball league and because I’m 6 feet tall, people said I should try it. I hadn’t played the sport until my freshman year at Keene High but within three years, I had dropped the other activities and just did volleyball.”
Goal Oriented: After playing club and high school volleyball, McFarland was recruited by Rivier University in Nashua, N.H. She played three seasons for the Raiders and helped them twice reach the NCAA Division III playoffs. After graduating a year early and earning a master’s degree from Keene State in educational leadership, McFarland began a teaching career she hopes will lead to a principal or athletic director’s job in the future.
Isn’t It Ironic: “My mom still laughs at me being a reading teacher, because although I was studious and loved school growing up, I did not like reading. I actually think it gives me an advantage, because I can relate to a lot of kids who feel the same way. We focus on applying reading skills to everyday life.
“We also work on informational and argumentative writing. At the end of each school year, our kids pitch a ‘Shark Tank’ project to a panel of judges.”
A Matched Pair: “My husband and I met while playing recreation volleyball in Lebanon. He grew up playing baseball and now plays a lot of softball. He’s my assistant and JV coach for both softball and volleyball.
“I can see how it might not work for some couples, but we complement each other perfectly. He’s very laid back and mindful so he calms me a little bit. We sit on the bench for each other’s games and keep statistics and he grabs my arm when I’m being too mean.”
Marauders On The Rise: “Last year was the first season we had a reserve volleyball team at Hanover. Before it was just varsity and JV. This is my fourth year, so our seniors are the first class to go all the way through with my coaching. Building a program is hard, but we have more kids who are willing to travel and play club volleyball in the spring.”
Fur Babies: The McFarlands have five pets. The dogs are a Boxer-Labrador mix named Stark and a German Shepherd named Thor. The cats are twin sisters Kiara and Kora, and Mookie, who is named after MLB star Mookie Betts.
Bosox Backer: McFarland, who got her coaching start leading Keene High’s volleyball program from 2013-16, is a big Boston Red Sox fan. An uncle had season tickets behind one of Fenway Park’s dugouts while McFarland was younger, inspiring a love for the team that’s been tested this summer.
“Each time they trade someone away, I feel like things aren’t getting better,” she lamented.
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