Updated: Aug 17, 2022
Since becoming Bainbridge Island Football Club’s (BIFC) Director of Coaching in 2009, Ian McCallum has worn many hats, but perhaps his most memorable was one particular day as coach to a Girls U15 team. McCallum was riding the ferry to a game on the mainland like he had many times before, simultaneously texting and calling parents to coordinate last-minute details. And then it happened - his phone died unexpectedly, taking his lifeline to game information, directions and his connection to parents with it.
Hurdling the Seattle freeze and borrowing a stranger’s phone, McCallum was able to get directions and reach his team close to halftime. He was pleasantly surprised – and relieved - to see the girls were winning and made the decision to let his players continue managing themselves for the rest of the game. As a coach, it was one of the greatest learning moments of his career – if he’s doing his job right, his players should be able to successfully run the show when he’s not there. It's the kind of insightful leadership and coaching that makes the Bainbridge Island Football Club so unique.
Soccer is more than a job to McCallum, it’s his passion and constant teacher, bringing him to the United States from the small Scottish island of Bute. He began his career in the U.S. leading the soccer program at Camp Lenox in Massachusetts, then as Assistant Men’s Coach at Hanover College in Indiana, followed by several collegiate and youth coaching roles in Minnesota before relocating with his family to Bainbridge Island, which he now calls home.
With a population of only 25,000, Bainbridge Island is all about community, and that carries over to the BIFC as well. The club believes in quality over quantity – advancing the personal and physical development of each and every one of its roughly 1,000 players in the program throughout the year.
Commitment to its players is evident this year as the BIFC introduces new uniforms, locally sourced and manufactured by Hummel, a Danish sportswear brand dating back nearly a century. There also is a new turf field in the works, and the opportunity for 50 to 60 players to travel to Manchester, England over spring break 2023. During the club’s second annual trip to Manchester, boys and girls born in 2006 and 2007 will attend professional games, play local youth teams, and participate in training sessions with professional clubs.
As DOC, McCallum’s ultimate goal is for the relationship between players and club to last a lifetime and not just a season. He wants players to go on to become referees and coaches and he wants to coach their kids one day, too. And it seems to be working - BIFC currently has four former players on its coaching staff and several high school players assisting with younger teams.
While the island may have changed from Bute to Bainbridge, McCallum’s lifelong enthusiasm for soccer hasn’t. Over the years, his journey from Scotland and throughout the U.S. has brought him full circle, allowing him to give back to the sport that brought him so much love and happiness as a child.
Learn more about Bainbridge Island FC at www.bifc.net.