Coach takes leap of baseball faith to teach youths
It was an ordinary weekday morning and Jared McClure was rummaging through his mother’s attic in search of two photos taken in 1992 at one of his 12-and-under baseball games.
The photos were from the Denton city championships at Evers Park. One showed a young Jared putting on catcher’s gear between innings, the other captured him hitting his first home run.
Finding those photos meant a lot to the 1999 Ryan graduate and local baseball instructor, now 32.
“I hadn’t seen those photos in years and wanted them enlarged,” said McClure, who also volunteers as a 12U coach, umpire and 6U commissioner with Denton Boys Baseball. “I had already given up on any videos. I figured they had all been erased or taped over. I was wrong.”
If anything could distract McClure from finding those photos, it was the VHS tapes that he said chronicled every game he played in from eighth grade through his senior year at Ryan. He found one dusty box of 10 tapes and by that afternoon had them playing on his 60-inch TV.
“He made me watch those videos for the next three days,” laughed Marissa Wallace, McClure’s fiancee. “He kept rewinding and pausing to make sure I saw every swing from every possible angle. He was dissecting everything. I’m not just marrying him; I’m marrying baseball.”
For McClure, the effort he put in to find the photos and videos was not about reliving his glory days. It’s about his love of baseball, which by the looks of things appears limitless. He wants to share that love and appreciation for baseball with area youths, and he is doing that through his baseball clinic.
McClure started a one-man instructional clinic in July 2012, and while slow initially, his dream has turned into a year-round venture focusing on every aspect of the game. He adapts each one-hour session to what each student’s goal is and can include anything from pitching or batting to proper base running technique.
Most of his business is during the offseason, but he works with as many as 10 kids year-round.
“After my first season as a 12U coach, parents just started approaching me and it went from there,” McClure said. “I just try to make it exciting for the kids. Baseball is my life and I want to pass that on.”
He had to take a leap of faith first.
McClure knew starting his own business was the right call, but he had been juggling his full-time job at a local bank with his volunteer work as a 12U coach for Denton Boys Baseball for the better part of a year. There was no room for extra one-on-one time, and that weighed heavy on his mind.
“I remember sitting around [a year earlier] deciding which age group I should coach,” McClure said. “So I got on Google and found a crazy stat that said 76 percent of kids quit baseball before the age of 13. I thought wow, really? Once I read that, I knew what my path in life was.”
So he walked away from the bank in June 2012, and from that moment on hasn’t left the field.
“It was extremely scary when he quit his job and went this direction, and there are times when he still barely gets by,” said Debbie Adcock, McClure’s mother. “I am behind him 100 percent because all I want is for him to be doing what makes him happy. People don’t understand how much he loves it. It’s his passion.”
McClure didn’t have a resume sporting 20 years of coaching experience. After his days at Ryan, he didn’t go on to play college ball. Instead, he got his pilot’s license and stayed with the game he loved only by playing in recreational city softball leagues.
Yet his enthusiasm, and the way he brought the game to life for kids, won everyone over.
“Jared has a holistic approach as a coach,” said Paul Jacquot, whose stepson is one of his students. “It’s not just about fundamentals. He teaches how to think about baseball, he applies baseball philosophy to life, he teaches the history of baseball and he doesn’t look at kids with perhaps lesser skill as any different.”
That’s where most coaches can go wrong, McClure said.
“It kills me when I see irresponsible or impatient coaching,” he said. “They get mad and think their way is the only way. I am still open to the thought that I am 100 percent wrong about something I’m teaching. The goal is to make sure the kid is pointed in the right direction, they are having fun and they’re learning.”
McClure expects to be just as much a student of the game as his players and constantly is looking for ways to improve his product. For starters, he gives all his attention to his kids. He won’t be seen fumbling around with his phone during practice. In fact, he makes it a point to be oblivious to anything going on outside the fences when he’s coaching or doing one-on-one work.
He became an umpire with Denton Boys Baseball last spring so he could understand the game from a different perspective. As a commissioner, he is involved in whatever conversations are necessary to make the league better for children.
That means there is rarely a day when he is not at Evers Park volunteering in some capacity.
“He’s like a kid in a candy store,” Wallace said. “He wants to be there, and many days he is there all day long.”
If he does take a day away from the field, he’ll go right back to looking for those two photos.