Cross country coach McCoach dies at 63

High schools

August 05, 2006|By BILL FREE | BILL FREE,SUN REPORTER

Jim McCoach was never able to walk away from coaching, even when he tried.

He commuted from Berlin on the Eastern Shore to start a cross country program at Maryvale, and just two months ago he agreed to return this fall to Calvert Hall as assistant cross country coach to Randy Fowler.

McCoach, 63, didn't get to keep that date with Calvert Hall, where he had won seven Maryland Scholastic Association and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championships in the 1990s. He died Wednesday after suffering a massive stroke seven days earlier, leaving behind a coaching legacy of more than 500 cross country dual-meet victories over 39 years at seven area schools.

"Running was like in his blood," said Mary Bondyra, his assistant coach at Calvert Hall. "That showed the kids how much love he had for the sport of running, not just to coach it to coach it."

Retired Baltimore County cross country coach Jerry Martin, a long-time close friend and confidant of McCoach, spent three years as co-coach with McCoach at Dundalk, where he gained respect for McCoach for his ability to manage a track meet.

"Jim was great at getting kids in the right events," Martin said. "This is a great loss for Baltimore high schools."

Martin said McCoach will probably be remembered most as "the starter at his own cross country meets. He loaded his own gun, a Civil War musket, and he would fire it to start major meets. People who read this will say, `So that's the guy who started that meet I ran in a long time ago.' "

bfree7066@hotmail.com

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