Faces of Clarksburg Presents: Ian McAra
Originally from Derby, England, McAra is a well-known face around the City due to his contributions at Notre Dame High and St. Mary’s Elementary School’s. McAra is the Director of Advancement for both of the Catholic Schools in the city and explained that his favorite aspect of Clarksburg is the people. McAra explained, “I love the personal connections that I have made in Clarksburg. Due to the sense of community, it has been a wonderful place for my wife and I to raise our family.”
Athleticism & Coaching
Upon graduating high school, and being blessed with a gift of athleticism on the soccer field, McAra played for Derby County in England and was a member of the Pro Football Association. During his time with the development league, McAra was approached by someone who was seeking players to come to America to share their gifts. Although he was skeptical that anything would come of submitting his name, McAra received a call from the head coach of the soccer team at Alderson Broaddus University inviting him to come and play for the Battler’s.
Move to America
Because he was inspired by his travels in Europe, McAra was attracted to the idea of moving to America. In 1994 he chose to move to the United States with intentions to only stay for one (1) semester to play soccer. Although he had only planned to stay for a short period time, McAra’s role became more dominant in his position on defense as right back and McAra grew found of the country roads. In his free time McAra enjoyed coaching youth on the side, as he had received his coaching license while playing in England. McAra received his Bachelors of Science in Physical Education degree in 1998 and began searching for options in surrounding areas.
Although locals give him a tough time about it now, McAra had gained employment with the Harrison County Board of Education as a substitute teacher and head coach for Bridgeport High School. After spending seven successful years with the Indians, McAra looked to expand his horizons. McAra worked for K and M Landscaping Services for a short period of time and also with Mylan Park in Morgantown. Although he enjoyed the time had spent searching for a career, McAra was determined to get a position in Clarksburg.
In his determination, McAra applied for several jobs. Notre Dame had a position opening for the position of Advancement Director; however, they did not believe McAra was the most qualified candidate. Although he may not have fit the description for the particular position, Carroll Morrison, the Principle of Notre Dame, was unwavering in asking Ian to be the Head Soccer Coach for the Irish. With original concerns of never having coached a co-ed soccer team, McAra received relief from religion teacher, Patty DuPont who offered to assist Ian with coaching. McAra stated, “I wouldn’t have even considered it if it wasn’t for Patty coming forward. She has been a great asset to coaching at Notre Dame.”
Coaching at Notre Dame
Choosing to coach at Notre Dame, became a perfect fit for McAra once the Advancement position became available once again and was offered to him by the principle. McAra since then has proved that his skills on the field could be converted his role as Advancement Director for Notre Dame and St. Mary’s School’s. McAra has helped the schools to raise a substantial amount of donations over the years in addition to encouraging philanthropy among donors. McAra stated, “It was important for me to shift attention away from many of the “old time Catholic School Fundraisers” that provided little reward after a great investment of time and energy. It was my hope from the beginning to get individuals to buy into the mission of the school rather than a candy bar.” McAra concluded, “Advancement in our schools is all about relationships and encouraging constituents.”
Among the relationships that Ian has built during his time in America, McAra has played an integral part in raising a family with his wife Melissa. Melissa McAra, formerly Melissa Martin, connected with Ian during an evening out with friends at Washington Square Restaurant. Ian explained, “When I was introduced to Melissa, I knew that she was attractive but didn’t think that we had a great deal in common. On top of our cultural differences, she had a much more outgoing personality than I did.” He concluded, “I guess that’s why they say opposites attract.”
Ian and Melissa are now happily married with three children; Matthew, Michael and Luke. Ian explained, “We are truly blessed with three children that are very involved. Between sports, extracurricular activities and school work we stay pretty busy.” The McAra children currently attend St. Mary’s grade school where Melissa also works.
Between his time with the Fighting Irish and family, McAra has been able to stay active in the community by offering youth soccer camps for children looking to have fun and expand their knowledge of the fundamentals of soccer. 2F Soccer (Fun and Fundamentals) was created by McAra to offer kids a chance to learn Fundamentals and have fun while playing soccer. McAra stated, “We have been successfully developing kids to make decisions on the field rather than coaching the kids. They are not robots; therefore, it should not be the coaches plan to control the kids on the field. We teach them to apply the fundamentals that we have taught them and have fun while doing so.
Individuals can enjoy one of the many soccer camps offered by McAra by going to the 2F Soccer website. The camps are hosted within Harrison County and surrounding areas.