When it comes to the Mission High School girls’ soccer team, it’s all in the family. With Aaron Clemons as the head coach, his wife Edna Clemons as his assistant and their daughter Cassie Clemons as a Lady Eagles’ star player, there’s no doubt about that.
While having a husband and wife coaching team at the high school level is somewhat of a unique situation, it certainly seems to be working for the Lady Eagles. This was definitely the case last year when Clemons’ squad breezed through an undefeated district season followed by a district, bi-district, area and sectional championship.
So how did this family-friendly scenario come to be? It started with Coach Aaron Clemons returning to his alma-matter where he once starred on the football field.
“I played football for the Eagles and I went on to play at Tarkio College in Missouri,” said Clemons. “After working in the prison system for 10 years, I was hired here as a freshman football coach and I thought I was going to be the boys junior varsity soccer coach. However, that position was filled so I became the girls’ JV soccer coach for one year before becoming an assistant to head girls’ coach, Oscar Ortiz, for three years. I then became the Lady Eagles head coach five years ago.”
After being the athletic coordinator at Kenneth White Jr. High, Edna Clemons joined the Lady Eagles coaching staff four years ago.
“At the junior high level you coach everything,” explained the Lady Eagles’ assistant. “I coached volleyball, soccer, track, cross-country, basketball and pretty much every sport there is at that level, other than tennis and golf. I came over to Mission High four years ago to coach volleyball and girls’ track. For two years I helped Aaron as an unofficial and unpaid assistant but when his assistant, Letty Ybarra, left two years ago I applied for the job.
“At first they didn’t know how the husband and wife scenario would work, but I knew the sport, I was already helping him, and they needed a female coach, so I was hired,” she added. “Aaron and I both graduated from Mission High in 1989 so coming back to coach at our high school means a lot to both of us.”
Although coincidental, Edna’s move to Mission High coincided with her daughter Cassie’s freshman year. After having coached her from her t-ball days through her junior high years, Edna became Cassie’s varsity volleyball coach her sophomore year while Aaron has been her varsity soccer coach since she was a freshman. Now in her senior year, having her parents as her coaches is all Cassie has ever known.
While there have been times that having her parents as her coaches has been a less than an ideal situation for Cassie, for the most part she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“If I’ve had a bad game it’s hard to come home to my coaches,” said Cassie. “But after a good game it’s all we talk about. Sometimes my mom and I discuss the line-ups. I’m able to tell her what some of the girls are saying so I give her feedback from the players’ point of view.”
As for why the already multi-sport athlete and cheerleader took up soccer when doing so would mean having to give up softball, it all came down to her father wanting one of the best athletes at Mission High on his team.
“I never really wanted to play soccer until my dad became the coach,” explained Cassie. “Even then, I’d tell him that I didn’t want to play soccer because I wanted to play softball. But he kept telling me that I needed to play because I’m such a good athlete. So I started playing soccer because of him and I’ve never regretted it. Not only has it become a sport I’ve really enjoyed but it has also allowed me to get closer to my dad as my coach.”
While some might think that being the head coach’s daughter would entitle Cassie to some special privileges, Coach Aaron Clemons doesn’t treat Cassie any differently simply because she’s his flesh and blood.
“We definitely treat our girls as family,” said Aaron Clemons. “Now with Edna on board and with Cassie on the team I feel that it creates a real family atmosphere. The other girls see that I don’t treat her any differently than anybody else. This past weekend, for example, Cassie missed a practice because she was the Duchess of Ruby Red Grapefruit in the Citrus Fiesta parade and even though she’s been a starter for me for the past three years, she didn’t start against Edcouch Monday because she missed that practice.”
This being Cassie’s senior year makes it a bitter-sweet situation for her mom and her dad. Both are enjoying seeing her succeed academically as well as in sports, but neither is looking forward to what next year will bring.
“I’ll be sad to see her go,” shared Edna Clemons. “I’ve been coaching her since she was five years old, so it’s going to be very hard coming to school next year and not seeing her there. I was lucky enough to make the move to Mission High her freshman year so I’ve been able to make it to every volleyball game and every soccer game she’s played in, every track meet she’s competed in and every game she’s cheered at. It’s going to be very hard being here next year and not seeing her at all.”