by Don Patteson
I first met Jimmy “Mac” McClendon in 1960, our sophomore year at MHS. We played together on the Bulldog basketball “B” team that year. It was immediately obvious that Jimmy was a gifted athlete. We learned a lot under Coaches Todd and Spears and had a lot of fun that year.
Lee High School opened the following year and Jimmy and I lived on the side of town that put us into a new school with a new coach and a whole new approach to basketball. Neither of us performed very well under the new sheriff in town, Coach Stueckler, and we spent our senior year riding the bench. Jimmy had great promise as a basketball player – one of the two best natural shooters I ever played with – but his experience under that particular coaching style crushed his spirit. Coach Todd told a friend of my father that if he had been able to keep Jimmy McClendon at MHS he would have made an all-district player out of him. I had the opportunity to share that with Jimmy later in life and he broke down in tears.
I have learned through my own personal experiences in life that a coach can have a powerful impact on young athletes and, on my own path, I always tried to make sure the impact I had on youngsters was an encouraging and positive one.