Coach James McClellan
James McClellan was nominated to the Coaches’ Spotlight by Victor Knox and Yasmin Abrams. James doesn’t have a typical story of why he decided to become a soccer coach; he actually never played the sports as child. This was one of the reasons why he wanted his son to be very active in all kinds of sports. While attending a game to watch his son play soccer, he noticed the other team’s dynamics and their ability to out play and out smart his son’s team. He watched the coach utilize a player who was paralyzed from the waist down as the goalie and he was amazed at how the coach inspired the player to play harder and better than his counterparts. The following year, James became an assistant coach.
For James, PAL was about family. He coached his son and grandson in soccer, and his wife eventually became a coach. She started as an assistant coach, but eventually started her own team. They also coached for a middle school at the same time, which meant that both of them had two teams of their own. They enjoyed spending time with children either going over homework before the kids were allowed to practice and even picking up some of kids for practice and games. Before playoffs in 2010, James’ wife became sick, and passed away soon after.
Since her death, coaching has become more of an outlet for James. He enjoys seeing kids do things that they (and their parents) think they can’t do. James loves being around kids, and coaching has kept him young and active. He practices and plays with his students, and has paid for dozens of kids to play in the program if their own parents couldn’t afford it.
James typically spends eight hours a week coaching kids, including games on Saturdays and practices during the week. He sees his past players everywhere; they always acknowledge him as “Coach” and always talk about homework and how they are doing. One former student is playing soccer on scholarship at Bowling Green College. To impact kids lives and to build stronger relationships with players James has decided to coach 10 and under to stay with the kids as they age in the program.
Throughout the years he has come in contact with many kids, but had a strong relationship with one kid name Victor, who was large for his age. He was really shy, didn’t want to participate in the game, and really was playing because his mother just wanted to keep him active. During a game, Victor was playing against the two girls on the team and they were able to make him fall. After Victor fell, he went and stood by his mother because he was embarrassed. James had to explain to him that although you are bigger than them, you have to watch your opponent and understand that they already have a mindset with what they are going to do. They would team up on all the best players to overcome them. One day, James put Victor in charge of practice, making him cover defense and telling kids what position they would need to play and James made sure he knew that that was his day. Victor enjoyed it so much that during the games he would stand by James and he really started to enjoy the game of soccer. Victor also plays football in PAL.