Town Talk Features

Back on Home Turf

Following professional stints with the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens, Kirkwood High School football star Jeremy Maclin is back in his hometown to stay. The former wide receiver recently accepted the position of head football coach at the high school, sporting an impressive record of hard work on the gridiron. A first-round draft pick, a Pro Bowl selection and the youngest player ever to score an NFL postseason touchdown, Maclin says he is proud to offer his knowledge and experience to up-and-coming players. He’s also been setting an example of service through his JMac Gives Back Foundation, which sponsors sports camps and helps kids dealing with family and medical challenges.

What has your return to Kirkwood been like?
A couple of years ago, my wife Adia and I had been contemplating what city we wanted to call home, and I always had it in my head that I’d like to come back to St. Louis. We have a daughter and another baby on the way and decided this was where we wanted to raise our family. I started as an assistant football coach at the high school and then got promoted to head coach, overseeing the varsity and junior varsity programs.

The students must have been excited for your return.
I think they were pretty excited. I’ve been able to establish good relationships with them, so I think this transition will be pretty smooth. I feel like they respect me for what I’ve done, but that’s just the start. Kids have good radar for people who aren’t authentic, but they also pick up on it when you are. For me, honesty doesn’t mean tearing people down; it means pushing them to greater heights and achievements.

How does it feel to take the field as a coach?
You definitely have a different perspective than you did as a player. Now, I have the added responsibility of helping kids develop, mature and gain confidence. That’s so important, especially in the state of our world today. Our youth are our future, and anytime I can offer kids knowledge and a positive perspective, I’m going to do that.

What life lessons do you share with the students?
I want to help them become whatever they want to be, whether it’s with sports or something else. It goes way deeper than football, too—I want them to develop, grow and succeed off the field. I’ve had some great mentors like Gary Pinkel and Andy Reid, and it really made a difference when people said I’d make a great coach. I want to pass that commitment and support along to my student athletes.

What do you teach kids about succeeding in difficult times?
I had some injuries that led to my retirement from the NFL, but I’m battle-tested, and I always bounce back from adversity. I have seen the same hardships and have been on the same paths these kids are walking now. That’s ultimately why I wanted this job—to show them I really care and give them experiences I didn’t have. Sports bring together a lot of interesting perspectives from different people, and I want the kids to celebrate that.