Although he’s cleaning out his classroom, Rollie Clements still plans to return for the Carroll High School boys soccer team’s 2020-21 season after two of the most successful campaigns in his two decades as the Chargers’ head coach.
After completing an abbreviated semester due to the COVID-19 virus, Clements planned to retire from teaching after nearly two decades as a science and social studies teacher at Carroll.
“I still enjoy coaching. It’ll just be different — I’ll have some more time for watching film and stuff that in the past I just didn’t really have time to do,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what that looks like.”
Clements graduated from Carroll in 1971 as part of only the second class to walk the halls of the current building. He began coaching spring soccer for the Chargers in 1989 while teaching junior high science at Saint Vincent de Paul Catholic School in Fort Wayne, before teaching at Carroll from 1992 through the 2019-20 school year.
Clements’ first teaching job was at Andrean High School in Merrillville, before he took a brief break from the profession to work full-time at Pine Valley Golf Course while coaching soccer at University of Saint Francis and Bishop Luers High School. He was even responsible for starting the girls soccer program at Luers in 1987 after the father of a female soccer player refused to let her join the school’s boys team.
“I was going to keep her — she was going to make the boys team — but then her dad found out and said she couldn’t play,” Clements recalled.
“… I told her, ‘If you can find 15 kids to have a team, I’ll find you a coach,’ pretty secure in the knowledge that she would never do it. Then about two days before the practices were supposed to start, she calls with a list of 15 names and I thought ‘Oh, crud.’ So I wound up coaching it,” he laughed.
Luers’ current principal, James Huth, even served as an assistant under Clements.
As a coach, Clements holds three state championship rings — all of which he earned as an assistant for the girls basketball team at Canterbury High School. He was also an assistant for the University of Saint Francis women’s basketball team for five years — a stretch that included a national championship under head coach Gary Andrews, who is currently head coach of the North Side High School boys basketball team.
“I’ve wandered all over the place,” Clements said. “There was a time when that used to be the joke — ‘What school are you coaching this year?’”
As soon as he came to Carroll, though, Clements never left.
“If you’re going to teach, I can’t imagine a better place to be than here. There’s just so many good people to work with and great kids,” he said. “The fun part is just seeing all the kids that have come through here — the doctors and dentists and lawyers. Heck, I’m teaching with a bunch of my former students now too. It’s just fun watching them grow up and do well.”
Clements said he had planned to retire after the 2019-20 school year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like all teachers across Indiana, he finished his final semester through remote learning.
“On one level it’s been fun, it’s been a challenge, but I miss the kids,” he said. “It’s just not the same sitting here in my classroom with just the computer and a bunch of empty desks.”
So far, he doesn’t have any big plans for retirement.
“When the Good Lord closes one door, something else opens,” he said. “I’ll do something, but I don’t know exactly what. As I tell people, I don’t have grandkids and my golf game stinks — I have to have something to do.”