For the past two summers, recent J-School graduate Cameron McClarren had two feet planted on a soccer field, a microphone or camera glued to his hand and his mind squarely fixed upon building up Lansing Common FC, a community-owned nonprofit soccer club. He credits his fulfillment during his internship to the hustle of the club’s employees and community involvement. After seeing the club’s growth over the years, McClarren is proud of what he’s been able to contribute.
“I was a broadcaster and a writer—basically a media relations employee for the team,” McClarren said. “I did a lot of recaps, previews, videos for the team and I broadcasted the livestream for the majority of the home games.”
Though these are the duties McClarren will put on his resume, getting the club off the ground in its early days was an all-hands-on-deck situation, so he also learned about community interaction and outreach.
“We do gear drives, we arrange park cleanups and we’ve done a lot to grow the soccer community in Lansing,” he said. “A lot of professional sports teams have their community outreach department, but you don’t necessarily see them as much. Here, that’s the main focus; we’re trying to build a soccer community in Lansing, while also putting a product on the field.”
Like work for many grassroots organizations, McClarren’s internship required adaptability, thinking on the fly and, most importantly, gusto.
“We started out with everyone saying that this is so brand new, so fresh, we have no idea what we’re doing, let’s just throw as much at the dartboard as we can,” he said. “We’re setting up the press box, we’re setting up the banners on the field and then we’re going upstairs to do the broadcast. We got a lot of notoriety and props for it.”
Luckily, great resolve can bring great reward. In McClarren’s case, the payoff was seeing the club’s success, particularly during a bittersweet title game against inner Detroit.
“I still have the photos,” he said. “We had been there since day one, we came that close to winning and we’re all crying on the field. That was our mecca. We literally saw the goal of the club [happen]—the goal that everybody had poured their hearts into when starting it. And in that moment, it didn’t matter that we lost, because we had actually won.”
Seeing all his hard work come to fruition during this game proved to McClarren that he and his coworkers had laid a firm foundation of professionalism, community and enthusiasm for soccer—no matter how the club may change after he leaves.
“We had the opportunity to start something from the ground up and push it forward,” he said. “With what we’ve been able to produce, the club is set up for future success, no matter who’s there. I think that’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.”
After graduation, McClarren will return to Lansing Common FC for the third summer in a row. As for his dream job, it doesn’t stray too far from his current position, or the career path he’s envisioned for himself since childhood, for that matter.
“I’m hoping to do hockey play-by-play one day,” he said. "That’s been the goal since I was seven. One time, I was commentating a game at a bar and some lady came up to me and told me I was going to make it big one day and asked me to sign her napkin. Working in hockey, working in soccer, working in a field where it doesn’t feel like work, it just feels like I’m having fun; that’s what I want to do.”
McClarren’s recipe for success is relatively straightforward: gain experience outside your comfort zone and put yourself out there, regardless of whether you see it panning out.
“Try everything,” he said. “Even if it’s something you’re not good at. I knew full well in that first interview that we were probably going to only broadcast maybe one or two games. Then all of the sudden, we’re thrown into them for the entire season. You may not think that that position will lead you to what you want, but you never know who somebody knows. Get your foot in the door, try something new and try something different. You never know where it will take you.”
By: Stella Govitz