When Lewis McClure, Broxburn born and bred, steps foot onto the campus of Delta State University as a student for the first time, he’ll be over 4,000 miles from home. He’ll go from living beside the banks of the Union Canal to residing with driving distance of the Mississippi River. He’ll walk on sidewalks instead of pavements, to the store instead of the shop, to buy twizzlers instead of strawberry laces and enjoy Mississippi Mud Pie over Sticky Toffee Pudding (Okay, you can definitely find Mississippi Mud Pie in the UK. Anyway...)
All of these changes exemplify the America McClure imagines is “ten times bigger than anything over here”, and the challenges he says he’s ready for. The former Broxburn Academy pupil will go to Delta State in Cleveland, Mississppi on a soccer scholarship courtesy of Future Pro USA. He’ll meet up with fellow Scot Andrew Robertson, the head coach of the Delta State Statesmen, as he splits his time between studying a business degree, playing football and watching the institution’s other teams. McClure says he’s looking forward to taking in the basketball team’s games in particular, having had a taste for it during a campus visit earlier this year.
McClure first realised he wanted to experience life across the pond just before the onset of his teenage years. “I think I first had the idea of going to America when I was about 12 years old, but it was just a dream,” he said.
“It wasn’t until recent, this last year, that I saw the opportunity through YFS and with Future Pro for the scholarship and it took off from there, and now my dream is realised.”
A composed central midfielder who can also play centre back, McClure puts an extreme focus on training hard and doing the “extra bit”, a trait that has helped him throughout his football life so far. The first club he played for was Broxburn Athletic, before spells with Tynecastle, Broxburn once more, and Bathgate Thistle, who merged with Fauldhouse. “I’ve been quite lucky to play with so many successful teams,” he says, and points to a Blackpool Cup win with Tynecastle and an undefeated season that led to a treble while with his last club. McClure singles out former coach Steven Sharpe for his help in assisting where he finds himself now. Sharpe worked extensively with McClure during his recovery from a pelvic injury that kept him out for almost eight months. It was here the importance on training hard intensified, with McClure’s recovery entailing early training sessions and extra hours in the gym. On Sharpe, McClure says: “He’s probably been the biggest help in football, and without doubt the biggest character. What he did when I was injured helped me a lot, and now he’s like more of a friend than a coach.” Sharpe’s dealing with Chron’s and Colitis and the associated charities led to McClure running the Edinburgh Marathon for that same charity, raising a massive £1600 in the process.
McClure’s return from injury and his marathon highlight a determined and ambitious individual, two qualities one needs to make a decision like going to the US. Especially when such a decision involves leaving behind your family and girlfriend for eight months at a time. “It’s tough,” begins McClure. “Me and my girlfriend for example, we’ve been together for just over two years. It’s going to be hard but she’s been really good, she’s very proud and she’s happy for me. She realises this is just something I have to do.
“It’s a dream come true for me and I’m going to be living that dream, but we’ll make it work.”
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