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Major League Soccer exec, UMW alum to speak at 2024 graduation ceremony

Photo by Rebecca J. Barnabi.

Major League Soccer executive Mark McClure, a 1996 graduate of the University of Mary Washington, will be the university’s 2024 commencement speaker.

The vice president of technical operations holds a bachelor’s in English from UMW, which was then Mary Washington College. After following his love of reading and writing through college courses and teaching himself coding in computer labs, McClure pursued a career in broad sports with a focus on fans, players and their stories.

For more than a decade, McClure has worked to bring sports fans to Major League Soccer via digital strategy and content and now manages a team that helps broadcast matches around the world on MLS’ streaming services on Apple TV.

From Springfield, Virginia, McClure found his way into soccer through digital media work, first with D.C. United as director of digital media and then with MLS headquarters in New York. Prior to MLS, he led the redesigns for several major newspaper websites and Fortune 500 companies.

“I found my way into all my careers because I learned how to learn,” McClure said. “The sports industry demands constant change. My ability to quickly learn new skills and technologies is essential to my career. A liberal arts degree makes you agile and essential to an organization, because of the interdisciplinary nature of all the courses and degrees. That’s what you need.”

McClure’s commencement speech to the class of 2024 will include more of that can-do attitude.

“It’s going to be a bit of a pep talk. You already made it through a myriad of challenges to get to graduation, and I know everyone can rise and succeed in the next phase of their lives,” McClure said of his speech.

McClure said he looks forward to returning to UMW campus and thinking about his time as a student, drawing wisdom from faculty and classmates.

“I think about those great times, from sitting in class learning things that changed my mind to sitting on benches with friends who changed my life.”

UMW’s 2024 commencement ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 11, at 9 a.m. on Ball Circle, rain or shine. Tickets are not necessary for the in-person event, which will also be streamed online. UMW is at 1301 College Avenue, Fredericksburg.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.