Kean Barclay

We've been speaking to Kean Barclay, Executive Director and Director of Coaching at Clarksville Soccer Club, Tennessee, USA.

Diploma of Higher Education, Sport, Health and Exercise

What do you get up to on a day to day basis?

I am responsible for the day to day operations of a Non-Profit club (5013c), including building and managing a coaching staff to coach and mentor about 500 kids on various competitive teams from age 8 to age 19. These teams compete in a State Governed league and competitive tournaments throughout Tennessee and surrounding states.

What positive impact does your role have?

When I started with this Club in 2017, one of my objectives was to create and implement a plan for all teams to commit to, executing a community service project each season. It is my ambition to help create, in all our athletes, a sense of obligation to making a positive impact within the community they live. I believe that soccer is one way for our coaches to teach meaningful and valuable lessons that have a positive impact on the people around them. We want our players to become great husbands, wives, siblings, fathers, mothers, neighbors, community members. What they do on the field has a shorter lifespan then what they can do within their communities, and it is our hope that by being a part of Clarksville Soccer Club we can help foster that type of character.

Was this the role you had in mind when studying your programme at Abertay?

I have always had a love for sport, being the fact that I have always been involved in the game of soccer. I was extremely fortunate to have had some incredible international soccer experiences at a young age for an American. Our family moved to Bolivia, Ireland, and Scotland for my father’s work in creating study abroad programs for the University he worked for in the US at the time. Those experiences afforded me the opportunity to see, learn and appreciate different cultures growing up. I think learning this appreciation for all people and all cultures truly shaped me into the person I am today. By allowing soccer to connect me with people, whom I normally would not have had the opportunity to connect with, has been something I am truly grateful for and hope to help cultivate in others. My time at Abertay was amazing. I was able to connect with so many different people who grew up with experiences different then mine. I loved my experience in Scotland immensely, and hope to bring my family back at some point. I had the opportunity to coach the university football team at Abertay, and it was a tremendous experience.

 

The studies that I did at Abertay were quite forward thinking. They helped me see sport from a new perspective.
Kean Barclay | Clarksville Soccer Club, Clarksville, Tennessee, USA | Executive Director and Director of Coaching

Tell us a wee bit about your journey to this position since leaving Abertay.

After I finished my time at Abertay, I returned to the US and attended Indiana University Indianapolis. I continued my studies in sport and physical education. I had the opportunity to coach at Brebeuf Jesuit High School in Indianapolis during my final semester at university, and I knew that coaching was something I wanted to do. When I graduated from Indiana in the winter, I traveled to England to complete internship experiences at West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers the following spring. Upon the completion of my experiences in England, I had coaching experiences at Longwood University in Virginia, University of The Ozarks in Arkansas, East Central College outside St. Louis and Northern Kentucky University before I landed in the Nashville TN area where I have my current role with Clarksville Soccer Club. I have continued my education, and completed a post graduate degree in education (M.Ed) at the University of Missouri St. Louis, and continued my coaching education as a USSF A License Candidate, a USSF Grassroots and D licenses Coaching Instructor License. I also completed a Coach Developer Course with the New York RedBulls and the United Soccer Coaches organization, along with a Director of Coaching Certification. I am a strong proponent for continual self-improvement and love learning new ideas and sharing experiences with everyone I have the opportunity to meet. I most recently have also started a (mostly) soccer podcast called ‘Down The Tunnel’, where I invite guests to share their experiences, achievements, disappointments, and everything in between.

What successes and challenges have you come up against in your professional career so far?

I think without question to work in the sporting field you need to have thick skin, and perseverance. I have a drawer full of rejection letters for jobs I’ve applied for (within the coaching field). You’re going to be criticized, it’s something I’ve learned to use as an opportunity to ALWAYS look at things from a perspective that I’ve done it wrong, and reflect on all of the ways I could have done it differently. I’ve had coaching “jobs” I didn’t get paid for, I’ve had jobs so low paid that I qualified for government aid. I’ve had the the salary of jobs change on me at the last minute and at the worst time. I remember a job that I applied for, drove and interviewed for, and was offered the job, I stayed in that State a few extra days and found an apartment to put a deposit on. I accepted that job, and several weeks later – I think it was a Saturday night (I was leaving to move there the next day) and the job started that week – I got a phone call from the person who offered me the job and they told me that the amount he had offered me they decided they couldn’t do, but they could pay me a few thousand for the year. I was so disappointed because I was looking forward to the new adventure, but I lost faith in the integrity of the people who had originally offered me the job and couldn’t take it. At this point, the hiring/job opportunity window had closed. I ended up working some jobs outside of the industry temporarily until I ended up getting back involved in a college job that came my way. I learned quickly that if I wasn’t willing to keep working towards having a career in the industry, despite setbacks, it was never going to happen.

I feel blessed to be where I am today. I work for a Club with a board of directors who love the kids, love our mission, and are extremely supportive in the pursuit of creating an environment that promotes a holistic approach to developing young men and women….not soccer players, but people first.

What are your future professional aspirations?

If I’m totally honest – my professional aspirations are be inspired by others, and hopefully provide inspiration to others through whatever setting that may be (soccer, community) and to be a better person everyday. If I can provide for my family, while achieving that simple idea, I would consider that a success.

Do you have any words of advice to those thinking about getting into your profession?

Working in sport is fantastic. I have always been a sports fanatic, I played soccer since I was a kid, and the fact that I’m still surrounded by the game, I feel like I have to pinch myself everyday.  The joy on the faces of the kids who get to play, seeing coaches improve their coaching skills are rewards in themselves. The SMALL impact I may on those around me is incredibly rewarding. I can’t tell you that some of the best things that happen to me are when I get a phone call, text message or email from a former player. It absolutely makes my day. I find it so humbling and gratifying just to get a phone call from someone I used to coach just to talk. Talk about life, talk about their spouses, kids, jobs, just about anything.  The fact that we can continue a relationship for years beyond the soccer and living nowhere near each other reminds me of the impact it has on MY life. I genuinely LOVED every kid that I was lucky enough to have on one of my teams (even if we butted heads at the time) and I can’t tell you how much that relationship will impact you.  

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