Taylor Melvin CFNN Reporter

Mr. McLean has been the athletic director at Cape Fear High School since July 21st, 2014. Just over five years. He’s now moving up to bigger and better things from athletic director at Cape Fear to principal at Clement Elementary School in neighboring Sampson County.

“Even before coming to Cape Fear I knew it was a great school. I had high hopes and knew this school had a lot of great opportunities,” said McLean. “I’m happy that we, as a school exceeded everything that I thought we could.” 

Working at Cape Fear High School for over five years made him see kids and coaches evolve through the years. 

“Our students are as good of athletes at Cape Fear as there are at any other school. The administration has supported them,” said McLean. “Coaches are willing to work hard and parents are willing to allow their children to be pushed and in order to be good you need to be pushed.” 

There are moments he remembers the most.  

“Two proud moments I’ve had as an athletic director is the softball team winning a fifteen inning softball game this year, and of course football going to the State Championship in 2016,” said Mr. McLean.

Mr. McLean knew there would be challenges going from High School to Elementary School. He is aware that elementary school is an entirely different “animal” than high school. He expects some challenging but rewarding days ahead.

“It will be a challenge, but I like a challenge,” said McLean.

McLean is also aware that a school full of elementary school students may have quite a different feel than the hallways of Colt Country! He has a daughter, Annabelle, in kindergarten. She is the same age as the students at Clement.

“She can be a handful, and now I’ll be dealing with about 350 or more children between the ages of 5 or 12,” said McLean. “Another challenge is learning what to talk about with an 8 year old after having talks with high schoolers for so long.”

He is excited about moving on, but he will miss high school at the same time. Cape Fear had a significant impact on the beloved Assistant Principal and Athletic Director. His time here was discussed sentimentally on his last day.

“The relationships I have built with students, families, coaches, and teachers are what I’ll miss the most,” said McLean. “I always walked around and saw good teaching going on. I would walk out to practices or games and see good coaching and sportsmanship,” 

Under McLean’s athletic leadership, Cape Fear as a school was selected as the best overall athletic department in the state two years ago. Schools are only eligible to win that award once every five years. McLean was also named Athletic Director of the year by the North Carolina Athletic Association for the 2018-2019 school year.

NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker praised McLean.

“It is a high honor to be chosen as the top overall program in
the State for the Exemplary School Award, and Cape Fear High School is truly a deserving recipient. They have demonstrated a commitment to education and excellence that is second-to-none amongst their peers in North Carolina.” She added, “Athletic Director Matt McLean and his staff are truly leading the way in student engagement and achievement. We are very proud of their hard work and dedication to education-based athletics and the Association.”

In response to that, McLean heaped all of the praise on players, coaches, and fellow administrators.

“I worked with great people.” McLean said. “When anyone wins any kind of award, you can bet there was a group of people behind the scenes who helped them get there.”

Mr. Matt McLean will be missed at Cape Fear High School. He provided positive leadership, a warm smile, and “ceiling is the roof” mentality at the school. Good luck, Mr. McLean, and happy trails!