“One of the jokes I used to tell my kids was, ‘When I was a little boy, we were so poor, I couldn’t even pay attention,’” he said. “I’m really going to miss telling my corny jokes to my track program as part of my motivational techniques.”
McCloud recently stepped down from his post as Campbell’s track and field coach after 20 years at the helm. In all, the 57-year-old spent 33 years as a track coach at three schools in Cobb County, including Wills from 1981-86, Pope from 1987-92 and at Campbell from 1993-2013.
McCloud made his decision to retire a few months before the start of the season.
“I decided that the time was right,” he said. “The motivation was leaving me. I didn’t feel like coming to work, and that was one of the primary signs. Prior to that, I loved coming to Campbell High School, but something about that feeling told me it was time to move on.”
McCloud leaves behind a history of successful programs, led by successful individual accomplishments from many of his athletes.
Campbell’s highest team finishes at the state meet were fourth-place showings for the boys and girls in 2000 and 2011, respectively.
The girls also won a region championship in 2011, and they were co-champions in 2012. The boys were region runners-up in 1995, 2000 and 2011, and they placed third in 2013.
Individually, some of the standouts coached by McCloud include Terrance Wilson, who went on to stand out at North Carolina, champion hurdler Allan Frye (Norfolk State) and 800-meter state record-holder Marcelo Dunning (Georgia Tech).
Jasmine Edgerson (Clemson) won a state championship in the hurdles for the Lady Spartans. Keyonna White (UAB), Brianna Chambers (Georgia), Monti Willis (Western Kentucky) and Kelli Hardnett (Houston) were state champions in the 1,600 relay.
“I’m proud that I did some of the things God asked me to do with the young people I was entrusted with, and that was to teach them to work hard and try to be successful people in life,” McCloud said. “I’m a firm believer that if you do just halfway right, the Lord will bless you.”
McCloud has fond memories of his career and time at Campbell. As the sponsor of the Real Majority Club, he oversaw a student-leadership group that taught students how to avoid high-risk behaviors, including drugs, violence and premarital sex.
“I’m really proud of that because it touched the entire student body, not just the track program,” McCloud said. “I’m also proud of the fact that some of the young people who have come through the track program have gone on to become pharmacists, lawyers, and people that are making significant contributions to society.
McCloud’s fondest individual memory was watching Wilson finish as the No. 3 hurdler in the world in the late 1990s.
“That was a big deal,” he said. “This year, having hurdler Allan Frye run the fastest time in the United States, and then become the high school national champion at 400 meters last year, those were also significant moments for me.”
McCloud influenced Wilson’s life so much that the pupil returned to Campbell following his collegiate and professional career to become an assistant coach.
“Coach McCloud was more than a coach to me,” Wilson said. “He was more like a father. He was someone who took the reins and helped me when I didn’t want to run track. He’s someone who stepped up and made sure I came to school and practiced. It’s definitely more than a coach relationship, it’s more like a father figure-mentor relationship.
“He definitely set the legacy of what track and field is, what it needs to be and what it’s going to be here at Campbell. I think if he never came here, then a lot of guys like myself, I don’t know where we would be.”
Although Wilson won’t see McCloud at practices, he’s still be able to reach him and to speak to him when he needs to.
“I’m definitely going to miss him, but I still have him on speed dial,” Wilson said. “I talk to him every week. He’s teaching me how to fish. We’ll keep our relationship open. He’s going to mentor me in the teaching process and continue being the way he’s been since I was a freshman at Campbell.”
McCloud said he’ll miss Wilson, too, along with some of the other relationships he had with other colleagues at the school.
“(Campbell) is a very diverse and exciting place to be with a lot of good people,” he said.
Though McCloud intends to retire from teaching as well as coaching, he may stay involved with the sport and coach somewhere else if the right situation comes along.
In other words, he’ll follow his own advice.
“One of my quotes that my track people like to hear me say is that success is directly proportional to your level of commitment,” he said. “Some of my older track students like to hear me say, ‘The race is in your lane.’ Those are philosophical thoughts they sort of reflect on to motivate them outside of track and field.”