Soccer coach Martin Clayes said his master’s degree from the United States Sports Academy made him competitive among job applicants and ultimately led to him being hired to lead a soccer program at the collegiate level.

Clayes, a native of Perth, Scotland, earned his Master of Sports Science degree in Sports Coaching from the Academy in 2013. Clayes, who was recently hired to coach both the men’s and women’s soccer teams at East Central College in Missouri, said his Academy studies boosted his career even before he completed the master’s program.

“I decided to pursue my master’s degree after I was a finalist for a head coaching position I did not get because the ‘other guy’ had a master’s,” Clayes said. “Because I was already working as a full time assistant coach I did not want to put my career on hold to go back to school. I researched and found out the Academy had a strong reputation in the sports world. The flexibility to work toward my master’s degree in my own time and with the right load depending on the time of year was perfect for what I was doing.

“One year later I interviewed for that same position and because I was working toward my master’s degree, that time I got the job. I was able to coach and then also teach because of my education from the Academy.

“The knowledge I gained from the Academy about sport and performance psychology, coaching, administration and strength and conditioning has definitely helped the teams I have coached over the years,” he said. “I often refer back to the text books I used and just the experience I gained provided me the knowledge and confidence to succeed in the sports industry.”

Clayes said he enjoys the pursuit of excellence and camaraderie that are part of his job as a collegiate soccer coach. At East Central, he’s taking over the men’s team and also starting a women’s program from scratch.

“I love soccer, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to coach for a living,” Clayes said. “I get paid for something I would do for free. I have a huge passion for the game but I also enjoy working with young people. As a kid I remember showing the younger kids skills or explaining formations to them, and I always saw myself staying in the game after I was done playing.”

Clayes has been a coach for both men and women at every division of collegiate soccer. He previously coached at St. Louis Community College, where he led the men’s soccer team to the NJCAA Division 1 Region 16 title. He has also coached, taught, and been an athletic director at both the high school and middle school level. He has also coached for and been the director of youth soccer clubs in Missouri, New York, Illinois, Texas, and Oklahoma and coached in the United Soccer League (USL) semi-professional Developmental League.

“I will always recommend the Academy’s programs,” Clayes said. “The online courses were challenging but the assistance from professors and administration was always first class and I always felt like I had the support I needed to complete my degree.”