The Meridian Star
Jerry McReynolds has spent the last 30 years of his life coaching youth soccer. On Saturday, the Meridian Youth Soccer Organization recognized his efforts by presenting him a plaque at the Jaycee Complex.
Todd Pope, president of MYSO, presented the award at the High School Soccer Jamboree and said the board chose to recognize McReynolds because of his dedication to the sport, the athletes and the city of Meridian.
"Jerry has been involved [in MYSO] for as long as I can remember," Pope said. "He actually started out with the first group of guys, before my time ... he stayed around. He's been a staple at coaching multiple age groups over the years."
His dedication to the program didn't go unnoticed. Pope said that often people refereed questions and endless stories back to McReynolds and the kids he coached.
"Within the last couple years, he decided he was going to retire and he just couldn't give it up," Pope said. "We thought it would be fitting to honor him because of giving so much to the kids of the community."
McReynolds said it was an honor to be recognized in front of roughly 250 people from MYSO, participating high schools and participants and staff from last week's UK International camp.
"I was expecting to get anything like this, it was an honor," he said.
This season he coached the U14 boys team through the State Games tournament, which played for the bronze medal, but lost to FFC United.
He loves working with the kids and seeing them grow through the sport and in life. One of his favorite parts of the side job is hearing success stories from former players.
"Seeing kids after they have moved onto the next age group and when they come back and want to tell you how much they enjoyed being on the team is probably the most rewarding part of it," he said.
"When they tell you they had more fun on that team than any other team they've played on, that, I think says a lot."
Through his coaching, McReynolds works to instill the that players can be aggressive on the field without being mean.
"I just try to instill in them that you can play the game and have fun, and don't get upset when things go wrong because they are going to go wrong," he said. "You just have to come back and come again ... if you're going to be successful, it takes hard work."
When not on a soccer field, he is is making sprockets at Precision Sprockets in Marion. But coaching has always been hard to walk away from.
"I just enjoy being around the kids," McReynolds said. "It's just something I wanted to do ... they are enjoyable to be around and see them grow up. It's just a good feeling."
Despite trying to retire years ago, he'll be back next season, but hasn't decided as to which age group he'll take.
"He's continuously coached at MYSO all these year, some of the other ones you know after their kids are grown up and all gone," Pope said. "He's still out there for the love of the game."