A tough decision leads to success

Rodney McLean II decided to drop basketball and only play soccer for the WS Christian Lions.

A tough decision leads to success
December 20
03:00 2022

From the day he began playing sports, Rodney McLean II has been a multi-sport athlete. In his junior year of high school, he chose to focus solely on the sport of soccer. That gamble paid off as McLean, who attends Winston-Salem Christian School, and his teammates not only won the state championship, they won a national championship as well, going undefeated along the way.

“It’s hard to switch sports, or whatever, but I felt like for me it was the best thing to do. I felt like I loved soccer more,” McLean said about switching to solely playing soccer.

McLean played basketball and soccer for several years, but basketball seemed to be of more importance during his middle school and early high school years. He would routinely attend basketball camps to enhance his game, playing at the YMCA and AAU circuit as well. The soccer talent was evident early as McLean made the varsity soccer team as a freshman.

“To be a varsity as a freshman takes a lot,” he said. “Really, I didn’t know what to do with soccer and I didn’t have much to lose. I didn’t know what offsides is, so I started learning the game throughout high school and I learned a lot.”

Even though he didn’t know all of the rules of the game, McLean felt his athletic skill set was more geared for soccer than basketball. As he became more knowledgeable about the sport of soccer, it became more evident that it was the sport for him.  

“It was kind of like, let’s try this thing out my freshman year, but then I actually wanted to focus more on it than basketball. I knew I wanted to do it, and God wanted me to do it,” he continued.

McLean says he spoke with his mother about the decision to drop basketball and only play soccer. Even after all of the time, money and effort she poured into him playing basketball, McLean’s mother was behind him 100% on his decision. All of his friends and basketball teammates were behind his decision as well.

“In our talking, he just kind of described that he realized that he needed to step away and focus on soccer,” said Tameika Faison, McLean’s mother. “He said it was like things were different for him on the soccer field and it was just eat, breathe, sleep, soccer.”

Faison immediately switched gears for her son’s new focus and began getting him some extra training and different camps to make him a better player. McLean also joined the NC Rush club team to give him more playing time against good competition.

“He just felt that’s where his talent was and he worked hard to do his best out there and I told him I would do what I could do to make sure he got the extra training he needed to develop in the sport,” said Faison. “He played soccer early, but as he got older, basketball is what he gravitated to.  

Faison shared a story that in middle school, McLean failed to make the soccer team and he was very disappointed he did not make it. Faison feels that was sort of the fuel that started the flame for soccer in McLean.  

“I think that drive is what kind of gave him the push he needed to become more skillful in soccer. He didn’t realize it at the time but from there is where he really started picking up his skill in soccer and he made that decision his junior year that he just wanted to focus solely on soccer,” Faison said about her son.”

McLean says the soccer team had a good year for his senior season. With a coaching change heading into his senior season, the team was poised for even greater success. The new head coach was also McLean’s club soccer coach, so there was familiarity there. Always the humble kid, McLean says he felt he could have performed better, however, for his efforts on the field, he was named to the All-Conference team.

It’s a parent’s dream to have their children accomplish their athletic endeavors. For Faison, she was very excited for her son and the team because she spent so much time around the boys

“I just tried to stay at a neutral level so that if ever it was a bad game, I just try to be there to uplift them and pick them up,” she said. “I am there for every game and I think it’s important to be there for all of his games. I was able to transport the boys by driving the bus to their games, so I’ve always tried to be there to support them however I could.”

McLean would love to play soccer on the next level. He has not received any offers from any colleges as of yet, but he is hoping that opportunity presents itself at some point before graduation. He feels he is a very coachable player, energetic, a team player, and the definition of a student-athlete.

“It’s hard to find guys like me. I am a very calm, cool, collected guy that is a team player,” he said. “I am a hard-working student on and off the field. I can do community service as well.”

Ms. Faison says one of her fondest memories of her son on the playing field is when she was able to capture a photo of McLean praying on the field prior to a game. She stated she never noticed it previously, but felt that gesture spoke volumes about the values and importance of prayer she instilled in him, as well as what he has learned while attending WS Christian.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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