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July 5, 2016

Last month, South Carolina women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith announced the addition of Clark McCarthy to her staff. McCarthy will serve as an assistant coach and work primarily with the Gamecock goalkeepers.

The Columbia, S.C., native comes to South Carolina after five successful seasons as the men’s soccer coach at Dreher High School, where he led his team to the state playoffs each year and also served as a health and gym teacher. McCarthy recently took time to talk about his first month with the Gamecocks and share other aspects of his life.

What have you enjoyed the most since joining the staff in June?
“Just the camaraderie. Working with Shelley and Jamie has been great. They’re great mentors and leaders, and we’re all very competitive. That’s going to lead to some good things on the field, and we work well together.”

What is it that you like about working with goalkeepers?
“It’s a specialist position, and you have to treat it as such. We’re unique from the rest of the team, but we’re also an integral part. Training them for their needs is exciting, and every day is different. The intensity is awesome, and building those relationships with a small group is really the coolest part.”

Who is your favorite soccer player to watch?
“From a goalkeeper standpoint, I like Germany’s Manuel Neuer. He does things his own way, and he sets the bar a little higher for goalkeepers. For a field player, I like Lionel Messi. It’s probably the typical answer, but he’s pretty amazing to watch.”

What is your favorite coaching memory from your time at Dreher?
“Beating our arch rival, AC Flora, both times during the regular season this past year. It was pretty special for that group of seniors, and it was the first time we had done that since I had been there.”

What is the best part about living in South Carolina?
“The people here are always just so genuine. They’re very polite, and the family atmosphere is a cool thing. Home comes to mind when I think of Columbia, and I just love it.”

Why did you want to get into coaching following your playing career as a college goalkeeper?
“Impacting lives is the biggest reason. It’s more than just wins and losses. Getting to know your players on a special level and seeing them succeed after soccer is over is the coolest part. I wanted to work with young players and help them become the best people they can be.”

Did you play any other sports besides soccer when you were growing up?
“I played baseball when I was younger, and I played football in high school for a few years. I was a tight end and a defensive end, and they moved me around wherever I was needed. It was a good experience, but soccer has so much to offer. It’s always changing, and there are always challenges. It’s always fun preparing for those games and preparing players for the uncertainty. No one knows what’s going to happen in a game, and the preparation aspect of it is so fun.”

What’s the most difficult part about being a goalkeeper?
“The scrutiny that you’re always going to face. A field player can make a mistake and it might not be noticeable, but everyone sees when a goalkeeper makes a mistake. Having thick skin and finding the balance mentally is probably the toughest part. You’re under a microscope. If you let in the game-winning goal, everyone is looking at you.”

If you weren’t coaching or teaching, what would be your next career path?
“Before I got into this, I was actually in the process of becoming a police officer. I was filling out applications and going through that process, and the teaching job at Dreher became available. Being a police officer was where I was headed, and the everyday challenges of that type of job and that environment interested me. It’s never the same thing every day, and you’re protecting and serving your community.”

What is your favorite sports movie?
“Miracle is up there for me. That’s a good one. It’s a great story, and I like to see cool things like that happen to teams that work so hard to get there. That’s why we play sports.”