She finished with one more soccer win (715) than Babe Ruth had home runs (714) and in many ways, Shelley McMillian has been every bit the trail blazer that the New York Yankees slugger was.
No one hit home runs before Ruth came along until he ushered in a new era. Before McMillian, high school and club soccer was on the fringe of just being a fringe sport. Now it is part of the athletic landscape 12 months a year.
Simply put, it’s hard to imagine local soccer without Shelley McMillian in it, but we’d better start getting used to it. After four years at Parkway as girls coach – and 33 years coaching both boys and girls at Loyola and Calvary – she’s calling it a career.
“I loved, loved, loved my relationships with my players,” she says. “And I loved competing.”
So many games, so many players, so many memories. That’s why it wasn’t easy to get McMillian to choose her most memorable moments for her career.
But here we go, in her own words:
- Being 20 years old, starting the men’s program at Parkway with 13 players going 2-13 the first year and then the next four going 67-13-3. Those guys worked so hard and had a huge hand in jump-starting my career!
- In 1996, my first year at Loyola, and the boys won the state championship, although the greater of the memories was us never being ranked and having to face some adversity in the semifinals. Oh, and we were a 2A school who won the 4A state championship, being the first team north of Lafayette to ever win a state championship!
- In 1998, the Loyola girls knocked off No. 1 Newman Catholic in the first round of the playoffs and made it to the state finals, losing in sudden death OT. What we learned about believing in each other and ourselves that year was second to none!
- The 2009-2010 Calvary season. The girls team had never won a playoff game. We made the playoffs as the final wild card and knocked off the No. 12 team, the No. 3 team and the No. 5 team and lost to the eventual state champions in the semis! We battled so much adversity and did things we should never have been able to do! (We even started three seventh graders.)
- In August, 2010. I lost one of my players, Will Mathews, to a brain-eating amoeba. It was one of the most devastating moments of my life, much less my career. The memorable part is that still today Will is impacting so many of us by the way he lived his life and the amazing young man he was!
- Getting my 700thwin, not because of the number of wins, but because my family was there and for me there were so many emotions it represented of what this game has done to impact my life!
- While at Calvary, my guys were playing an opponent that was less than sportsmanlike! Several of my players had been Injured so at halftime I had some words with the referees and the opposing coach. When walking back to my bench, my guys had formed this arc with their arms crossed, like “try messing with our coach.” As I got close to my bench I heard Chance Hester say to the opposing bench, “my coach can beat up your coach and she’s a girl!” We won the game and after the game I was standing in the parking lot and the police officer that night came up to me and was like “Coach, can you please get in your car, the other coach is scared to walk into the parking lot until you’re gone.”
- Coaching against former players and the camaraderie and conversations that happened before the games started and at the midway mark during those games.
- Taking over the Parkway girls in the middle of the season in December 2019! They were 2-6-2 and they didn’t believe in anyone to lead them. I had to work my butt off to get them to buy into believing that I was only there to boost moral! They finally bought in and we finished the second half of the season 10-2-2, won the district and lost in the state quarterfinals.
- When at Calvary, one night I was sitting on the bench with one of my male players. He was tying his shoes and the opposing coach walks up to us and says, “where is your coach?” And the player sitting next to me stands up to jog out to warmups and turns back and looks at the guy and says, “clearly you haven’t read the sports section in the last 20 years!” (On the guys side, most of the opposing coaches through I was the athletic trainer.)
- In 2015, I lost one of my Calvary players, Nick Anderson, to a car accident, and once again realized that not everything is really about winning and losing! Most of the time it’s about getting through adversity!
Contact JJ at email@example.com