For Immediate Release: July 10, 2008
Contact: John Hartrick (
Phone: 607-777-6800

Q&A with BU head women's soccer coach Sarah McClellan

(After serving two years as BU's top assistant coach, Sarah McClellan was named head coach in February and is preparing for her inaugural season this fall. A 2003 graduate of University of Maryland, McClellan played under U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame member and World Cup Champion Shannon Higgins-Cirovski, and the Terrapins advanced to the NCAA Tournament twice in her three seasons on the squad. She holds a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Maryland and a master's degree in physical education from Drury University. In this segment, McClellan reflects on her experiences prior to Binghamton and shares her goals and strategies for the Bearcats women's soccer program.)

What are your initial goals for the soccer program?

To bring a high level of organization and structure to our team. Our match preparation will have our players playing with confidence and maturity. Our enjoyment of the game itself and commitment to work for our teammates will have us playing with a great deal of emotion.

Coming off a three-win season in 2007, what are the challenges you and the team face this season?

Obviously, this 2008 team is not interested in a repeat season. We are a new program with a whole new mindset in how we approach the game and that will certainly show through in our play. Our staff is going to be challenging our players to exhibit a sustained mental sharpness throughout training and games. I'm also very technically demanding of my players - playing technically sharp and then add tactical awareness - and our players will have their work cut out for them... but I know they can achieve that kind of level and we have a fantastic staff to help them do it.

What excites you most about coaching at Binghamton?

The most exciting part of coaching at Binghamton is that I am absolutely convinced that this is the ideal place for student-athletes. The Binghamton environment and our soccer program provide student-athletes the ability to develop and excel on the soccer field, succeed academically, grow and mature as young adults, and graduate with a top notch degree and the knowledge, skills, and confidence to excel in the professional career of their choice.

What kind of style will your teams exhibit on the field?

You will see a very purposeful attack with lots of combination play and an innate decisiveness in and around the goal. Defensively, look for a very organized and disciplined team effort.

What are your fondest memories of your playing career?

Honestly, the best part about playing at a high level is the super competitive teammates that I spent time with. We developed a great bond and lasting friendships.

What tactics or coaching philosophies have you adapted from coaches you have played for or from any other mentors?

I've been very fortunate to learn from some of the best soccer minds in the country in my time spent playing in the WPSL and the semi-pro W-League. I feel the best teacher of the game was my college coach, Shannon Higgins-Cirovski. There's a reason she is a World Cup Champion and U.S. Hall of Fame member... she's just that good!

What do you enjoy most about the sport of soccer?

It's a players' game... as a player, you are faced with an infinite number of situations that arise on the field and you've got to make a smart decision to address each situation -and in a split-second of time. The higher level you play at, the less time you take in making good decisions on and off the ball.

You played at a high level of college soccer and also earned a degree in biochemistry. How difficult is it to balance the two responsibilities and what do you advise your student-athletes on how to juggle all the demands of being a Division I student-athlete?

It wasn't easy, but true athletes don't back down from challenges. True athletes are competitive and demand the best of themselves in every aspect of their lives, not just on the soccer field. That's what we as a coaching staff expect of our players here at Binghamton.

What other sports did you play as a teenager and how did you get into the sport of soccer?

My older brother played soccer and I wanted to do whatever he was doing. I started playing when I was 6 or 7 years old and it just stuck with me. I played some lacrosse in high school too, but nothing compares to soccer.

What is the most difficult thing about coaching?

Finding a balance of fun and outright intensity - blending them together takes teams and players to greater heights.

What is one thing that people might not understand about soccer?

One thing many people don't understand is that while the game is obviously athletically and physically taxing, it also requires a high level of intelligent thinking. Top level players are both physically and mentally exhausted at the conclusion of a competitive match.

What points of pride do you emphasize with recruits about the kind of education and athletic experience they will receive at Binghamton?

There are so many aspects of the Binghamton student-athlete experience. Our student-athletes enjoy the finest athletic facilities in the country, high caliber Division I competition, a fantastic athletic department support system, and all without sacrificing academic excellence. Binghamton's academic reputation is highly respected... and for good reason. The university makes a commitment to student-athletes in providing all the resources and support necessary to facilitate academic achievement. In addition to graduating from Binghamton with a great experience, our players develop long lasting friendships and are proud to continue to be involved in the university and athletic department as Binghamton alumni.

Our soccer program is dedicated to developing outstanding individuals on and off the field. We seek to Achieve Excellence Daily in an effort to define the ultimate Binghamton University student-athletes… Champions in the Classroom… Champions on the Field… Champions in Life.

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