Ever since middle school, sports has been a huge part of Jesse McCormick's life.
Some things have changed since Bill Clinton was president and the cost of gas was $0.98 per gallon, but McCormick's passion for athletics still remains. He is currently in his first year as the head coach of the women's soccer team and has led the Lady Crusaders to their most successful season in history.
"For me, a large part of growing up and especially high school and college was playing sports, soccer and basketball mostly," McCormick said. "That's how I spent most of my free time."
McCormick attended Bob Jones Academy through high school and graduated from Bob Jones University in 2005. When he was 8-years-old, his parents led him to Christ after hearing his pastor preach on the reality of hell and his need for a savior. Though he was raised in a Christian environment, his love for sports became like an idol to him in his teenage years.
"In high school, sports became the most important thing in my life," said McCormick. "But I had a Bible teacher my junior and senior year that challenged me to get in the Word and read for myself, and that's one of the things that helped me grow."
In college, McCormick was asked to go on a soccer mission trip to Brazil, a life-changing event. In his junior year, McCormick suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss the entire soccer season and part of the basketball season.
"God used that to show me that He is more satisfying than sports," McCormick said. "If you had told me that I would miss the whole season, I wouldn't have known what to do with my time. God gave me grace one day at a time, and it was awesome to grow through that."
Today, McCormick recognizes the importance of Christian coaches and their enormous potential for influence on the next generation of athletes.
"Growing up, when I had a teacher or coach that was athletic, I tended to listen to more and respect them more," McCormick said. "I think sometimes it's easier for student-athletes to relate to those who are also athletes, so that's how I became interested in coaching."
After graduating from BJU, McCormick came to North Greenville as an assistant under his friend Chad Gfeller, who at the time coached both the men's and women's teams. In this, his first year as head coach, North Greenville finished the regular season with an 11-4-0 record and will travel to Palm Beach, Fla., for the NCCAA Regional Tournament on Nov. 21-22.
The team has recorded 9 shutouts on the season and has won 7 of their last 8 matches. McCormick credits Gfeller with laying a solid foundation the last three years for the Lady Crusaders' success this year.
"Spending three years under him definitely helped to grow me as a coach," McCormick said. "We've taken small steps one year at a time to get better. Chad brought in some quality players, and this year we had a few more quality players come in, which gives us some options. If a team focuses on one player, we have other players who can score also."