Michael McGarry grew up in Dunedin and attended Taieri High School before completing a Bachelor of Physical Education degree at Otago in 1986 and a Diploma in Teaching from Dunedin College of Education in 1987. Since then, he has taught at Otago Boys' High School, where he has been Head of the Physical Education Department since 1988, Dean from 1992-95, and Manager of the school hostel since 2002.
An outstanding young footballer, initially coached by his father and then through the Mosgiel Football Club and Taieri High School, he was offered and accepted an apprenticeship with Newcastle Football Club, and was also a professional player in Australia for two years. Rated as one of New Zealand's greatest players, and ranked by many behind only Wynton Rufer and Ryan Nelsen, he was an All White from 1986-1997, gaining 87 caps and scoring 24 goals. Along the way he gathered Chatham Cup winners' medals and Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year trophies.
Michael is currently President of the Mosgiel Junior Football Club and a member of the New Zealand Football High Performance group. He has mentored many young football players who have achieved at national levels.