Milford Mill: No. 1 fan `is still a part of us'

Soccer coach's father, 75, suffered fatal heart attack


High School

October 09, 2001|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Saye Nimley's breakaway goal that gave Milford Mill a 1-0 lead last month against Carver of Baltimore County was the kind of dazzling effort longtime soccer fanatic Donald McCoy liked to see.

"He was pumping both arms up over his head from his wheelchair, which is amazing because he had a stroke six years ago and his left side was almost completely incapacitated," said Donald McCoy's son, Kenan, 44, the Millers' second-year coach.

After the spontaneous outburst at the Sept. 15 game from his position near the Milford Mill bench, said the son, Donald McCoy slumped over and stopped breathing. The game was halted and emergency medical personnel were called, but their attempts to resuscitate McCoy, 75, failed. Doctors determined he had suffered a massive heart attack.

"I had been hesitant, because of his condition, to let him come down from New Jersey where he lived, but he was adamant about being there with us," McCoy said. "My dad was a lifelong plumber, he raised six kids, served in World War II -- he led a full life. I guess he knew it was his time. To die on the soccer field, maybe he wouldn't have wanted it any other way."

A crisis counselor was on hand at Milford Mill the following Monday.

"The kids were pretty shaken by it, but they're handling it with a great deal of resiliency," Milford Mill athletic director Reggie Brooks said.

Said midfielder Gulbet Kiros: "It was a shock, seeing what happened that day, but on the positive side, it has brought us closer together as a family. Coach was always telling us how supportive his father was of us, so even though his father's not here, he's still a part of us. We dedicated the season to him because we know he was our No. 1 fan."

Without their coach knowing, Nimley said, the team purchased black arm bands to wear in memory of Donald McCoy.

"The coach has turned things around for the kids at Milford, so they decided to do something special for the coach because they saw the emotions he's gone through," said county coordinator of athletics Ron Belinko.

"You have to admire someone who puts aside a personal tragedy like that, is going through his own grief, and, yet, is using it as a teachable moment for the kids."

Donald McCoy was buried on Sept. 21 at Princeton Memorial Cemetery in Robinsville, N.J. - "about 20 yards away from a soccer field," according to Kenan McCoy.

"Coach keeps telling us that if we really try, we can do anything we want to do, and be anything we want to be," Nimley said. "We want to win the division for him and be champions."

Nimley and striker Chris Wellington each have 10 goals and five assists for the Millers (7-0 vs. county Division III teams). The Millers have scored 30 goals and allowed four with three shutouts heading into today's game against Randallstown. Thursday, they will finish the game against Carver, which was suspended just before halftime. Midfielder Barry Moore has five goals, two assists. Junior keeper Tim Isreal has not allowed more than a goal in any game playing behind Gospel Nwogwugwu, Emmanuel Aning, Akil Raphael and Steve Yinger.

"It's a big turnaround from last year," said Kenan McCoy. "Dad would be so proud."

Grades first

Towson Catholic's boys soccer team will have to forfeit at least three games because academic ineligibility has reduced the number of available players to five. The Owls are expected to be back at full strength Friday when those players' 10-day probationary period ends, according to principal Thomas Peri.

"The criteria is public: No grades, no play. Kids can practice but not play in a game," athletic director Dave Owen said. "... The bottom line is that you're in school to learn, get an education, and that's our Number One priority. This is why they are there."

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