By Jeff White (

OMAHA, Neb. — The roster has turned over multiple times, and staff members have come and gone during the 16-year span in which the University of Virginia baseball program has made seven trips to the Men’s College World Series, with an NCAA title in 2015. But there have been three constants: head coach Brian O’Connor, associate head coach Kevin McMullan and associate athletic trainer Brian McGuire.

The contributions of O’Connor and McMullan to the Cavaliers’ success have been well-documented. The profile of the staffer known as B-Mac is lower, at least outside Disharoon Park, but that doesn’t lessen McGuire’s value to the program.

“When you have players turn down millions of dollars to come and play college baseball, you have to have somebody by your side every day who knows what they’re doing, and he’s elite,” O’Connor said. “He’s one of the keys that make us go. There’s no question about that. And his loyalty to this program, his commitment to the young men, it’s just tireless. He has long days, and it’s every day, and he is detailed and thorough and just passionate about helping those guys be the best they can be.”

McGuire came to UVA from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he’d been clinical director of physical therapy in the sports medicine center, before the 2002-23 academic year. In his first year at Virginia, McGuire served as the athletic trainer for Cavalier women’s basketball and also worked with the baseball program.

Back then, graduate assistants would handle athletic training for UVA baseball while pursuing their master’s degrees. “It was a one-year position, and it would turn over every year,” McGuire said Thursday.

In addition to working with Debbie Ryan’s basketball program, McGuire oversaw the student athletic trainer for baseball in each of his first two years in Charlottesville. That’s how he got to know O’Connor, who came to UVA from Notre Dame in the summer of 2003.

“After my first year was over, one of my requests was that we hire a full-time athletic trainer just for baseball,” O’Connor said.

McGuire wanted the job. He’d enjoyed his interactions with O’Connor, and “I think he’d realized how meticulous I really was, and how concerned and how detail-oriented I was,” McGuire said.

Even so, he wasn’t sure in which direction O’Connor wanted to go. The baseball offices were then based on the top floor of the McCue Center, and McGuire will never forget the visit he paid to O’Connor one day. “I knocked on his door kind of tentatively and kind of poked my head in, and I was like, ‘Coach O’Connor, I know there’s a baseball job open and I would really, really like to interview for that position, because I think it would be a good fit.’ ”

O’Connor agreed, and McGuire’s professional life changed. He joined the program on a full-time basis for the 2004-05 school year. “Twenty years later,” McGuire said, “it’s been nothing but phenomenal.”

Brian McGuire and his wife, Allison, in 2015

The Cavaliers advanced to the Men’s College World Series for the first time in 2009 and returned in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2021, 2023 and again this year. In the opening game of this MCWS, Virginia meets North Carolina at 2 p.m. ET on Friday at Charles Schwab Field Omaha.

McGuire, who received his bachelor’s degree from Slippery Rock University in 1993, has master’s degrees from UVA (in sports medicine) and Old Dominion (in physical therapy). Early in his career, he said, he worked primarily with football. He had internships with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens and also served as athletic trainer for an NFL Europe League team.

“I knew I wanted to work in the college setting,” he said, “but the only jobs really available were either football or basketball. It wasn’t until the 2000s when universities started hiring more positions. So most of my training up to that point was strictly football.”

When McGuire came to VCU, though, his boss was the team doctor of the Richmond Braves, then the city’s minor-league baseball team. “And so those two years are when I started to kind of have a different mindset,” McGuire said. “I really liked the nuances of baseball, trying to figure out the Rubik’s Cube of the shoulder and the elbow and those kind of things. Before every game I’d hang out in the training room at the Braves’ stadium with their athletic trainer … That’s when I started to kind of transition over.”

He’s served as athletic trainer for USA Baseball’s national team, and through his two decades with O’Connor’s program, McGuire has helped countless injured players return to good health and get back on the field. They include Aidan Teel, a two-way player who’s in his second year at Virginia.

In April 2022, pitching for Mahwah High School in New Jersey, Teel tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The injury required Tommy John surgery and meant Aidan would miss the 2023 season at UVA.

During his first year on Grounds, while his older brother, Kyle, was helping the Wahoos advance to Omaha for the sixth time in program history, Aidan rehabbed daily with McGuire.

“B-Mac is the best,” the younger Teel said Thursday after the Hoos’ practice at Schwab Field. “Anything you need, he’s always there. He really loves us more than we love ourselves and wants to take care of us more than we want to take care of ourselves.”

Recovering from an injury, especially a serious one, can be a grueling process. “It really is a fight,” Teel said. “It’s really like a mental war a little bit, but having [McGuire] there with you makes it that much easier.

“He helped keep me mentally sane through the process. He was the one who told me either, ‘Hey, you’re OK to do this, you can push through that,’ or, ‘Hey, why don’t we wind it down a little bit?’ And it was great having someone who’s been there and done it with dozens of guys. Having him there with me to do it made the biggest difference in my rehab and my ability to come back and be who I am.”

Brian McGuire

McGuire, who’s married to the former Allison Beightol, is measured and soft-spoken, but don’t be deceived, O’Connor said. “I can promise you he’s a fierce, intense competitor. Like the old saying, he’s a guy that hates losing more than he loves winning. And I can tell you that he’s calm and he’s respectful, but he is a really intense trainer, and I love that, because it’s in line with what I believe it needs to be about for these guys to experience.

“That said, he’s compassionate and, most importantly, he’s incredibly well-read. He goes out of his way to learn everything going on with baseball players and the overhead throw. He’s not just satisfied doing what he’s always done. He has spent the time and the resources to continue to keep up to date with what’s going on in the care of baseball players.”

McGuire acquired that knowledge through relentless study.

“This is what I tell my interns and GAs: that the first five years at your job, your coaches are going to be much better at their job than you will be at your job,” McGuire said.

Early in his tenure with UVA’s baseball program, McGuire said, he’d get home at 7 or 8 p.m. and eat dinner, “and then from 9 to 11:30 every night, seven days a week for the first two or three years, I would just read journal articles and books. I felt like I needed to really catch up.”

Having a committed athletic trainer is “vital to the success of any sports organization,” O’Connor said, “because first and foremost you’ve got to keep [the athletes] on the field, right? And when you play the amount of games we play in a baseball season, keeping them healthy and keeping them on the field so that we have them available is incredibly important. And let me tell you, it can be miserable if you have an athletic trainer that is not high quality, because there are so many things that are going to happen. I could tell you a hundred stories about situations that Brian McGuire has managed to help us win baseball games.”

McGuire grew up in Smethport, Pa., a small town about 95 miles south of Buffalo, N.Y. His sport of choice was not baseball, but wrestling.

“I loved the one-on-one, combative [nature of wrestling],” McGuire said. “It’s you or the other guy. I gain strength in kind of that solitude, that suffering, that challenge, the discomfort of making weight and losing weight and that feeling of exhaustion, and knowing that I may not be able to have a lot to eat today, but I still have to go out and work out for two hours.”

He smiled. “I just liked that solitude of suffering, I guess.”

McGuire finds his work fulfilling, and not only because he derives satisfaction from seeing smiles on the faces of student-athletes who’ve returned to competition after suffering injuries.

“That used to be the primary thing,” McGuire said, “and now it’s a little bit different, now that I’m a little more experienced. Now I think it’s seeing over the years how these young men at 17-, 18-years-old come in and how they just grow and mature and change as people and as men from point A to point B. And just to know that you were kind of a part of those physical ups and downs, the mental ups and downs, the successes, the failures, that right now is probably the primary joy.”

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