I still remember one of my first interactions with the man known as “Coach Mac.” I was in eighth grade and on the football team. Us eighth graders had decided that since we were older and it would be funny, we would haze the seventh graders. One of the most common forms of that hazing was the classic “Purple Nurple.” Coach Mac got wind of what was going on, so he came and payed the middle school locker room a visit. In a way that only Coach Mac could, he gave us a speech about being men, and then called us all “Queer Nipple Twisters,” which became a term the team used jokingly the rest of the time we were in school.
Another one of my first experiences with Coach Mac came during my first Mustang Test after Christmas break my Freshman year. Coach Mac had walked out to the track to see how the 40-yard dashes were coming. He saw me running and said to Coach Taylor, “That looked pretty good! How fast was that?” Coach Taylor responded, “6.4.” “Oh, well at least it looked good!” I was certainly not much of an athlete, but I always admired how Coach Mac told me that I could contribute and invested as much time in me as everyone else.
In both my Sophomore and Junior years, I had season ending shoulder injuries. Since I couldn’t practice, Coach Mac would always send me on these errands. Whether it was driving up to school to get something from his office or going and getting his whistle because he had forgotten it in the coaches’ office, Coach Mac gave me responsibilities and trusted me to get the job done. It took me a while before I had much of an understanding of “Mac speak,” so often it would take him telling me two, three, even four times before I understood what he was asking. There was a reason behind everything he told me to do even though it didn’t always feel like it.
After my Junior football season, I thought I had a decision to make. I could have undergone surgery on my right shoulder for a second time and been cleared by some doctors for my Senior season. Coach Mac told me that he wouldn’t play me my Senior year even if I did get a surgery done. I was a little hacked off because I thought that it was my choice and not his, but looking back, I now understand that he was just doing the right thing for my health, and I am so thankful that I got to play for a coach who really did care about my well-being. Even though Coach Mac wouldn’t play me, he really insisted that I stay on the team as a manager. I considered walking away from football, but Coach Mac played a big role in my decision to stick around for my Senior season.
My Senior football season was one of the most challenging and difficult times in my life, and I am sure that many of my teammates would agree with that statement. We weren’t very good, and that was something Lipscomb was not used to. Even though Coach Mac hates losing more than just about anything, he never gave up on us and reminded us regularly how proud of us he was. We missed the playoffs, but Coach Mac didn’t view us as failures by any means. That year really proved to me and many others that Coach Mac would rather lose with class and glorify God than win a State Championship going about it the wrong way.
Football was a huge part of Coach Mac’s life, but the way that he carried himself away from football is what set him apart. Coach Mac genuinely cared about everyone that he came into contact with. He led by example, and followed Christ’s example in every aspect of his life. He was Christlike in his attitude towards his wife, his children, his grandchildren, his co-workers, his students, his players, and even the officials. Coach Mac was in the business of fishing for men, and once he caught them, he was in the business of helping them grow into the man that God was calling them to be. I am the man that I am today because of Coach Mac’s incredible example.
Coach Mac was a man of incredible wisdom. He had a lot of sayings regarding just about every aspect of life. One of my favorites is “Girls are like Mountains.” I am not going to go into detail on that comparison, but you can use your imagination. Another saying that he used quite often was, “We put some more hay in the barn today.” Today I can honestly say that Coach Mac’s hay is in the barn, and someday I hope to get my barn just half as full as his.
Coach Mac was a man who not only had incredible knowledge of Scripture, but he put it into practice. My Senior season, he constantly reminded us of the last sentence of Psalm 55. He always made us put both of our hands in the air to remind us where the verse was found, and we would recite it together over and over. The sentence is, “As for me, I trust in You.” Coach Mac leaves quite a void in many of our lives and in our hearts, but he left us so much. Even though we are grieving the loss of an incredible man, I think its obvious what Coach Mac would have us do, and that is put our trust in God. So when we have lost an great husband, father, grandfather, educator, and coach we have one thing to do.
“As for me, I trust in You.”