One of Kevin McClellan’s favorite memories at Waynesburg University is a unique one: him cramping up.
“There’s always something holding back an athlete, so either there’s an athlete who is constantly pulling their hamstring every year, they have back problems or something. With me, I’ve been a person that has to drink a certain amount of water and eat a certain amount of food so I don’t cramp up.”
During McClellan’s freshman year preseason practice, McClellan, senior biblical ministries major, did not eat and drink enough before practice. His body performed fine but, while taking a knee in a team huddle after practice, his legs cramped up. Trying to stand after the huddle, he fell to the ground with his whole body becoming stiff. His team had to carry him to the athletic trainer.
“It was cool because, getting back to the training room, my whole team surrounded me, making sure I was good,” McClellan said.
In the mind of Kevin McClellan, ministry and football work similarly. Teamwork and positive reinforcement, emotionally and physically, are essential to success. Much like how a family should operate.
McClellan has played football for 17 years, having played all throughout high school in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, and all four years of his schooling at Waynesburg University.
In high school, his positions were offensive guard, a position meant to protect his team’s quarterback from the opposing team’s attacking defensive line, and defensive tackle, which called for the opposite of offensive guard. At Waynesburg University, his position was simplified to just left guard.
At age 15, McClellan’s mother died of breast cancer. While she was battling cancer, McClellan’s team held a ceremony for her during a game in October. When she lost her battle, almost the entire team arrived at the funeral.
“That wasn’t something I asked for. I just asked for prayers and someone to talk to if I needed it,” McClellan said in regards to his team being at the funeral. “It was insane to see my team surround me.”
After his mother’s death, McClellan “went down a really rough path,” of seeking trouble and cultivating darkness inside of him. McClellan said he eventually reached a point where he was done with how he was living Invited to a church youth group, he decided to visit. He kept attending and became friends with the youth pastor.
McClellan said the pastor discipled him, and his efforts led to McClellan calling Christ his savior at age 17 and finding his life calling.
“Shortly after I got baptized, I felt like God was calling me to ministry, and because of that, I knew I had to get some type of Biblical degree,” McClellan said.
So, after looking at colleges and having options become not ideal for him, McClellan chose Waynesburg University.
During his four years on campus, McClellan has shown he is “a picture of overcoming challenges and continuing to put his trust in Christ,” explained Joshua Sumpter, university chaplain and instructor of biblical and ministries studies.
Along with football, McClellan served as a Campus Ministry Assistant, leading Bible studies and other activities around campus. One of Sumpter’s favorite memories of McClellan was seeing him give his testimony during the athlete’s chapel service before the fall 2019 semester.
“He was confident, prepared and shared his testimony in a way that pointed his teammates to Christ,” Sumpter said.
Through his experiences, McClellan has learned that competition within a group grows teamwork and positive reinforcement. This holds true in football and ministry, explained McClellan.
“If I’m doing one-on-one’s with a player, yeah, we are competing, but competing in a different way. We’re making each other better and we are doing it out of respect and love for one another because we want to see each other succeed,” McClellan said. “In ministry, you do the same thing. You’re getting after people in a different way. If I have a youth group, I’m telling the kids what sin is and how to live the Christian life. Sometimes, that’s not easy. In football, things aren’t always easy.”
With that competition, McClellan gained a family in football and Christ when he lost his mother. With his sights set on becoming a youth pastor after graduation, McClellan continues to grow his family.
“In ministry, whatever type of ministry you’re doing, you are looking at people as family and you are serving others in that way. I feel football is the same way. All those guys are family to me.”