In The Locker Room with Jack McMilllin, Fourth-Year Varsity Soccer Player


Photo courtesy of OC Athletics

College fourth-year Jack McMillin. Photo Courtesy of OC Athletics

College fourth-year Jack McMillin’s ex-perience at Oberlin College has been, in a word, multifaceted. Not only has he found success on the field playing as a starting midfielder for the men’s soccer team, he is also graduating with a Creative Writing major and Africana Studies and Studio Art minors. Having been born and raised in Oberlin, OH, McMillin has been involved with the men’s soccer team from a young age. But looking beyond his college career, McMillin hopes to be able to work in a creative field. He is currently exploring his passion for woodwork and sculpture, and has created a number of wooden chairs.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Having grown up in Oberlin, you’ve been a part of the varsity soccer program well before your time as a College student. How do you feel now that you’re graduating?

[Assistant Men’s Soccer Coach David Wilson] played here, and I was watching him play here when I was 11 years old. So, it’s been really cool to see and be a part of the program in many different ways, and just to be able to have a bigger role going forward. So many people come through [this team] and it’s definitely a close-knit group. Alumni really like to keep a family feel and [they] make sure to come back. It’s been amazing to see the progression of this team culture. Either way, it’s Division III, so the main thing is the relationships. I don’t feel any regret because I met all of these people and established really strong relationships.

Has it been difficult to balance your academics with athletics?

Definitely, but one thing that makes it easier for me is that a lot of it is very creative. I’m a Creative Writing major and minoring in Africana Studies and Studio Art as well. So, I don’t mind investing a lot of time in making things with my hands or writing or spending time on a piece. The workload isn’t overbearing when you’re really enjoying what you’re doing. It definitely will be nice and chill a little bit to be a fuller person outside of soccer. But it’s manageable.

I heard you make wooden chairs?

Yeah, I make chairs. I’ve made a couple of chairs.

Where do you learn to do that? How did you get into making chairs?

Mostly working with people like [Professor of Studio Art and Africana Studies] Johnny Coleman and [Professor of Studio Art, Installation, Sculpture, and Book Arts] Nanette [Yannuzzi] in the Art department and the people in the [Oberlin Art] Fabrication Lab. It’s a lot of picking up little things from them and — I don’t know, I don’t want to say self-taught, but mostly just hours of screwing around with wood and tinkering. I do a lot of functional stuff like chairs and furniture, but I want to get more into out-there-design. I like the art aspect of it. I love chairs.

Where does this love of chairs come from?

That’s a good question. I don’t really know. I have a book at home on my coffee table with a thousand chairs in it and it a [bunch] of different chair designs, and I love looking through that. Yeah. I don’t know — I just love chairs.

So, your parents are both professors here. In fact, you’re in a class taught by your dad right now. What is that like?

My mom is in Rhetoric and Composition, and my dad is an English professor. It’s kind of fun. We keep it pretty low-key. A lot of people ask me, “Isn’t it weird to be in class with your parents?” but they’re super professional and love what they do. A lot of my conversations with my dad are already pseudo-academic or about literature, anyways — [class is] just a more formal space for that. It’s kind of funny going into class and [my dad] will shake my hand [because] we don’t really know what to do. I can’t really hug my dad in class, but it’s been great. They’re just such intelligent people. It’s not weird, it’s really nice. My brother went here too, and he took classes with both of them.

Do you think you’ll stay involved in the men’s soccer team post- graduation, like your assistant coach? Do you think you’ll stay in Oberlin at all?

I don’t think I’ll [take on] a role post- graduation, not necessarily. Not in a very hands-on way. I would love to put myself in a position to be able to speak to [future Oberlin players] and tell them about my experience, because that was helpful for me. Leaving Oberlin — that’s the big question. It’s hard to know. I’ve gotten so much out of it, but I think you kind of need to move around. But I want to find spaces in which I can create — whether it’s super utility-based like furniture or actually working on my art and sculpture installation. That would be incredible. Long-term, I want to teach at some point. I don’t know if it’s the high school or middle school level specifically, or [what] subject. But we’ll see if that happens.