Moving Forward as a Forward


Arlette Chama

Sophomore Michael McClendon (#9), scored two goals during the Wednesday game against AAE playing as a forward. Coach Kelsey commented, "The more he's out here, the more he's blossoming into the player that I know he can be."

Ashley Sanchez, Journalist

On the afternoon of January 15th, 2020, the University Prep boy’s soccer team went head to head against the Academy of Academic Excellence. But the most interesting part of the game was the decision to start with an unknown secret weapon to the Jags; Sophomore Michael McClendon.

    One of University Prep’s usual starters was not able to start, so McClendon took his spot, also getting positioned as a striker. The team was in for a big surprise. The game commenced, with the Jags scoring less than a minute in. By the end of the first half, McClendon had scored two goals. McClendon noted that he had played striker before, and that he was good at it. Good seemed to be an understatement to Junior captain Jason Yi, who stated, “I think he’s one of the best strikers on the team, and his speed really helped us.” But why exactly was McClendon put in as a forward when it wasn’t his typical position?

    According to Coach Kelsey, McClendon played for him as a striker about 4 to 5 years ago. However, the current club team that the young athlete plays on utilizes him as a defender. “I’m lucky enough to have the best of both worlds. I’m getting him adjusted with being striker to use his speed and his hard shot,” stated Kelsey. As for not having a usual starter, Kelsey mentioned, “Some coaches will put players in starting positions no matter what. The player will miss practice and such, and still get a starting position. I’m not like that; you have to earn it. Part of earning it is being present at practice and working hard. So Michael got to start, and man did it pay off!”

Arlette Chama
When asked about how the Jaguars achieved such a strong start against the AAE Knights, McClendon said, “It started with pressuring the other team, which led to the first goal. Then I received a through ball and ended up scoring back to back.”

The Jaguars defeated the Knights by a score of 7-1, two of the goals belonging to McClendon. He is hopeful for the rest of the season, stating, “I hope to go to CIF this year.” However, Coach Kelsey’s plans for McClendon’s future are filled with even more opportunity. “Looking into the future, he’s gonna continue to progress into a stronger player. If he opens up a little more, he could definitely be a leader on a team.” Kelsey elaborated on leadership by explaining that, Leadership isn’t about just scoring goals or playing good defense. It’s getting everybody together, making them work hard, getting them ready to go, and taking accountability for not only yourself, but your team on the field.

All in all, although it’s Michael McClendon’s first year playing on the University Prep soccer team, he was not afraid to leave his mark at the start of the league season.