Jeremy Maclin: The experience

From+the+hiring+and+perspective+of+the+new+football+coach+at+KHS%2C+to+the+importance+of+mental+health+for+athletes%2C+TKC+made+certain+to+not+lose+a+step+in+the+sports+spectrum.

Marianthe Meyer

From the hiring and perspective of the new football coach at KHS, to the importance of mental health for athletes, TKC made certain to not lose a step in the sports spectrum.

Before he played America’s game, and strapped on his helmet and cleats, Jeremy Maclin was born and raised in the Meacham Park neighborhood of Kirkwood, Missouri. Although Maclin had two older brothers Andre and Roshon he is close with, and lots of friends to turn to, Maclin said his upbringing wasn’t ideal.

“[With] my biological father not being in the picture, my mom was having to constantly work and try to provide for our family,” Maclin said. “A lot of the time it was my older brothers watching over me. Money was scarce. It wasn’t a big house with everyone eating dinner together every night. It made me learn that adversity builds character.”

Maclin dealt with this adversity by finding an escape. He excelled in multiple KHS sports, including basketball and baseball. However, football stood out to him the most from the beginning.

“[Football] helped in getting away from the things that were pulling me back,” Maclin said. “It made me feel free, and was a place that helped me get off some steam. I always loved [the physicality] since I was a kid.”

Being the current head football coach of his alma mater, Maclin said he uses the trials he faced in his childhood to help others. That help being valuable advice to any of his players, who could be going through a similar situation that he did in his youth.

“Some of these kids grew up in the same neighborhood that I grew up in,” Maclin said. “That was one of the main reasons I wanted to come back [to Kirkwood], to make a change because anytime I have a chance to help the youth to understand the difficulties they’re going through, I’m all for it. The fact that I’ve walked the same streets and lived in the same houses as some of these students is good, because it’s always good to be someone a kid can relate to.”

As the current head football coach of his alma mater, Maclin said he uses the trials he faced in his childhood to help others. Photo courtesy of Will Huster.

Maclin is also not just helping his players face their challenges off the field but on the field too. Maclin knows all too well the difficulty and anticipation of the recruiting process, having been noticed and contacted by NCAA Division I schools from all over the country, including Oklahoma, Notre Dame and the school he ultimately committed to, University of Missouri. 

“Back then, [recruiting] felt a lot more personal, especially with the phone calls, ” Maclin said. “Nowadays kids can contact coaches and universities through social media. [Being] recruited is a special time, because it’s not very often you have schools and colleges trying to sell themselves to you. I just tell them to enjoy the process, be present and make the best decision for you.”

Maclin’s on-field advice and past football insight has helped players, such as Nathan Hodo, senior. A part of that insight, in particular, is the halftime talks during the KHS football games during the 2021 season.

“[Maclin] always tells us in the locker room, when things might not be going our way, to not be individuals and work collectively as a team,” Hodo said. “[He tells us] to always stay focused and keep our heads up to the task at hand.”

Some of these kids grew up in the same neighborhood that I grew up in.”

— Jeremy Maclin

For Sam Linenbroker, senior, it has been not only the halftime adjustments, but the preparation in the week building up to the games. The pre-game week has helped make a difference in decision making when he steps on the field against the opponent at hand.

“He always stresses to us the importances of different aspects of the game, starting [with] the simple things, being physical, lining up, but most importantly knowing what your job is on the field,” Linenbroker said. “The insight he provides definitely helps in game situations, and to prepare week to week.”

An aspect of this planning is preparing specifically for the opponent. Maclin’s push to play a physical matchup against Marquette on October 8th, was a showcase of how the “week to week” preparation helped seniors, like Linenbroker, on gameday.

“We knew coming in they were a big strong team, which was why the importance of blocking on the line was key,” Linenbroker said. “It definitely was a big point stressed in team talks, and the pregame buildup.”

The preparation for the oldest high school rivalry west of the Mississippi, the annual Turkey Day Game, is no different. With both Kirkwood and Webster having winning records in Maclin’s junior and senior years at KHS, the’games competitiveness is what Maclin loved as a football player.

Before he played America’s game, and strapped on his helmet and cleats, Jeremy Maclin was born and raised in the Meacham Park neighborhood of Kirkwood, Missouri. Photo courtesy of Will Huster.

“[The game] is great as a competitor. They were great games during my high school years at KHS,” Maclin said. “Unfortunately, we lost my senior year to Webster, but I can still take those experiences and tell my players how to handle adversity in a big game like this one.”

The Turkey Day atmosphere is something Maclin says hasn’t changed from when he was on the field to when he first became an assistant coach under former KHS head football coach Farrell Shelton in 2019. 

“I’m excited and ready for it, after last year when it was cancelled due to COVID-19 issues. It was great to be a part of [the game] before, and it will be the same as a head coach. Right now as a team, with that game included, the focus for us is making a good run at this time in the season, advancing in districts and making a run to become state champions.