By Connie Bye
Ian McCallum gets a kick out of soccer. The sport he loved growing up in Scotland on the Isle of Bute still inspires him. As director of coaching for Bainbridge Island Football Club and coach of the BHS boys varsity soccer team, McCallum, 45, has shared his passion with thousands of area youngsters. He loves spending time with his wife, Erin, and sons Finn, Brody and Shay. Scotland still in his voice, he’s quick with a laugh as he chats about soccer, island life and the importance of caring for each other.
Do you cringe when people say “soccer” instead of “football”?
I love American football, so that makes it easier. But it’s harder when I go back to Scotland. When I talk about soccer there, people go, “What? What are you talking about?”
Where does your passion for the sport come from?
It didn’t matter whether I was in elementary school or high school, we played soccer at recess. And when we finished school, we’d go home, do our homework, and go back outside and play soccer again. You were with your friends; this is what pulled us together.
Can you recommend a book?
The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria. My wife is a seventh grade teacher at Woodward, so I also read a lot of teenage books right now. And I love Harry Potter.
How do you unwind?
Play soccer! I’ve also started doing yoga. I was riding my bike for a while, and then I had some health problems. I’ve just started riding again. I’ve set my challenge that by next summer I’ll do Hurricane Ridge again and the ride over the pass to Mazama.
What do you hope high school players take away from working with you?
I want to be supportive of them. Being a high school student on Bainbridge is tough; it’s a full-time job. When they come to soccer, it’s their chance to relax, to get away. At the same time, they were supportive of me when I had my health problems. Just being around them took away from the stress I had elsewhere. Ultimately, I want them to come back and coach or have their kids play soccer.
Do you miss Scotland?
This is home to us now, but there’s stuff I miss, certain foods. I really miss haggis; you can’t get proper haggis here.
Is the Loch Ness Monster real?
My mother’s name is Agnes, but she’s never been called that in her life. My mother is Nessie. I can’t say my mother’s a monster! I’m sure for all the children out there, the Loch Ness Monster exists.
You talked a bit about a health problem; it was cancer. What did you learn from dealing with that?
The support from soccer families and just families on the island was unbelievable. As strange as it may seem, it was a rewarding experience, in that you had this challenge, you had this obstacle, and yet all these people had your back. I remember one parent, I was at the grocery store and she was walking down the aisle. She just gave me a tap on the shoulder and walked on. I’ll never forget it.