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Greater Vision

File PhotoFormer Riverview head football coach Mike McCain has found a greater calling after stepping away from coaching football.

By Fred Conley Special to the Daily Citizen

When Riverview head football coach Mike McCain stepped down from that position at the end of the 2018 season, due to health-related reasons, he did so with a greater vision ahead of him.

A vision much greater than his own of becoming the next great football coach.

"You know, I wanted to follow my own vision, you know being the next Dabo Sweeny," McCain said. "But it just wasn't meant to work out like that for me. I finally realized that."

McCain's decision to step away as Riverview's football coach, ended a 16-year coaching career for McCain, a 1998 Forrest City High School graduate, is following that vision working with FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes).

"I never thought of doing anything else besides coaching," McCain said. "Now I feel like God is re-directing me and I am in the process of becoming an area representative in North Central Arkansas," McCain said in a recent interview. "I'm going to be working with former Bald Knob High School principal Wesley Roberts, now the North Central Arkansas Area Director for FCA."

McCain was back on familiar turf Wednesday in Forrest City to help rekindle the FCA in that area.

Having lived there and graduated from Forrest City, I have a vastest interest in that area," McCain said. "I told Wesley I would like to work there. We had FCA in Forrest City while I was in school in the late 90s, but we didn't meet very often, maybe once every two months or so. As I got into coaching about 2003 at Palestine-Wheatley and then in 2007 I took over the FCA at Searcy High School."

McCain attended Shelby State Community College for one year before transferring to Harding University in Searcy, where he was a two-year letter winner in football and was awarded the Iron Bison Award in 2002.

He graduated in 2004 with a BS in Kinesiology and certified to teach health and physical education in grades kindergarten through 12th as well as being certified as a coach.

At Searcy, McCain taught and coached at both the junior and high school levels and served as the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach for the Lions football team.

As the junior high football coach, McCain's team won a conference title in 2004.

Since stepping away from coaching on the final day of the 2018 football season, McCain says his coaching days are over.

"After that last game, I went and told my wife that I was supposed to step down as coach," McCain recounted. "There was no doubt in my mind that. In 2017 when my health issues first began, I tried to overcome those issues on my own, trying to do things my way, which didn't work. I look back on that day now and know it was God trying to redirect my path and I wasn't listening. Right now, I'm not coaching at all. I am full time FCA, trying to raise all of my support so I can get fully funded to be able to get onto campuses that support FCA."

It's an area that is somewhat out of McCain's comfort zone.

"It's not easy, meeting with people and asking for financial support," McCain said. "It is not always the easiest topic to bring up, but what I have learned over the past month or so it also helps to build relationships and if you come across those people who really care about kids and their communities and school districts, it makes it easier because we all have a vested interest in the lives of young people and coaches and athletes. And sports is such a large part of our everyday lives."

And being able to work Forrest City, the area where he grew up, makes forming those relationships much easier.

"That definitely gets the ball rolling, knowing that I was raised in Forrest City, went to school here and played all the sports. That is always a good topic to talk about."

As an athlete at Forrest City, McCain played whatever sport was in season. He is best remembered as a Mustang football and baseball player.

His passion, he says, was football when he lined up under center as the quarterback under former head coaches John Burgess and Wayne Mayer during his junior and senior seasons.

He helped lead the 1997 Mustang football team to the Class 4A state playoffs, following a 7-4 season. McCain took all but three snaps that season, throwing for 833 yards and seven touchdowns while running for another four.

He followed the football season by helping lead the 1998 Mustang baseball team to the Class 4A state playoffs at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville, under then head coach Johnny "Mac" Johnson. The '98 baseball team finished 12-6 overall as the No. 3 seed into the playoffs.

McCain finished with a .304 batting average, with 21 hits including four doubles, three triples, and three home runs. He drove in 14 runs while scoring 21. On the mound, McCain was 2-1 with a 4.00 ERA.

As a senior, he was named to both the All-Conference football and baseball teams.

In 2012, McCain was inducted into the Forrest City Athletic Hall of Fame, becoming the Hall's youngest member.

Always goal oriented, McCain said he is following what he believes is a direction from God into full time FCA work.

"I have a heart for coaches and student athletes," McCain added. "In February, I made FCA my future path. On July 22, a date I call my official launch day, I spent a couple of days in Kansas City training and when I got back I set a goal to be fully funded in FCA in 100 days. The 100th day is October 24. Hopefully, I will reach that goal. If I don't I will keep going until I do get fully funded, so I can equip the schools in my area with the resources they need to start an FCA Huddle. It takes a special coach to set aside time to be able to do an FCA Huddle."

If McCain feels right at home in Forrest City as he pursues his goal to get fully funded, he should have those same feelings while working the Wynne area.

"The new Wynne high school principal and I coached together at Searcy for four years, JD Parker, the Wynne boys basketball coach is the son of former FCA area rep here David Parker. My brother-in-law is the assistant principal at the intermediate campus."

That doesn't mean McCain is overlooking the Searcy area.

"My vision and hope is that, through the coaches in the Searcy area, we can get a community wide coaches Bible study going the mornings, maybe once a week or once every two weeks. We have Searcy HS, Harding Academy, Riverview and so many other schools in White County that could come together for that."