GREAT FALLS — Former Great Falls CMR coach and teacher Mike McLean will be inducted in the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame this June after establishing a reputation of success in the state of Montana.
As an assistant and as a head coach, McLean won games and championships. Whether it was the head boys basketball coaching position at Great Falls CMR or helping the Lady Rustlers softball team as an assistant, McLean amassed 13 state titles over his 32 years winning at the high school level.
“It was a little bit of a surprise because there’s a lot of coaches that could be in the same place I am I just happened to be lucky,” he said.
Luck may have played a little bit of a factor but there is no doubt that McLean is one of Montana’s greatest coaches and that’s not just by the numbers. Now retired and serving as an assistant coach for longtime friend and coaching colleague Steve Keller, who heads up the men’s basketball program at the University of Providence, Keller sees McLean as one of the greats.
“I don’t know if he’s had a losing season to be honest with you so definitely in the Mount Rushmore of coaches in Montana, Mike McLean would be right there,” Keller said.
However, many of McLean’s numbers speak volumes. As the head boys basketball coach of Chester and Great Falls CMR, McLean won six state basketball championships from 1991-200. As an assistant for Great Falls CMR softball, he won an additional seven state titles. For all the state titles wins he won, he never lost one.
But for McLean, there isn’t just one that sticks out because they’re all special to him.
“There was something special about those kids that I had they were tough-minded kids that came from good families. They’re all special. Even the teams that didn’t win were special,” he said.
Winning is great but the fulfillment and satisfaction McLean gets out of it comes from just knowing the incredible players and staff he had over his 32-year career.
“You have to have good players and good coaching staffs in order to win state championships. Connection is probably what is most fulfilling for me, for a coach or for whatever you do in your life probably, the connection you have with your coworkers or the people that were with you, that’s probably the most fulfilling thing of all.”
(Press release from Dennis Murphy of the Montana Coaches Association)
“Mike McLean started his coaching career in 1981, at Peerless, serving as their basketball and track coach for one year. The next 12 years were spent at Chester High School as the head boys’ basketball coach, junior high football coach and 7 years as the athletic director. In 1994, McLean became the head boys’ basketball coach at CMR High School. During his 24 years as head basketball coach produced an amazing 356-176 record, including 6 State Championships (1991,1992,2000,2001,2002,2004) and 2 other top-4 finishes. Coach McLean also spent 12 years assisting the softball program at CMR, an integral part of their 7 State Championships. During his 32-year high school coaching career he was a part of 13 State Championships. Mike has been a 6X MCA COY as well as a NHSACA National COY Finalist. After retiring from high school, he assisted the Great Falls Explorers CBA Pro Basketball team and then 5 years as a men’s basketball assistant at the University of Providence. Mike's induction ceremony will take place at the NHSACA Hall of Fame Banquet on Tuesday June 21, 2022, in Altoona, (Des Moines), Iowa”