A tribute to the one Coach Mac

September 13, 2008 10:03:17 PM PDT
It was a moving tribute today in South Jersey to a football coach who's made a big difference in the lives of his players, both on and off the field.He retired in 1995 after coaching football for 38 years, but legendary Pennsauken High School coach Vince McAneney was back on the field again, this time for a special ceremony to name the school football stadium in his honor.

"It brings back so many great memories. It's hard to believe this could ever happen to me, but it's happened and I'm happy and proud," McAneney said.

Vince McAneney, known as Coach Mac, taught at West Catholic in Philadelphia and Cherry Hill West before coaching at Pennsauken for 25 years.

"He took the time to know every player. I haven't seen him in 24 years, [he] came right up to me right away, knew my name without a name tag," former player Tom Callan said.

Many of Coach Mac's former players travelled from all over the country to be at the ceremony, a sign of the respect and affection they have for the man.

Former 49er all-pro defensive back Dwight Hicks, who played on 2 Superbowl teams, flew in from California.

"He was a great teacher and a great coach and there was no way in the world I was going to miss this day," Hicks said.

Many of the players say Coach Mac was an inspiration who taught them discipline and pride.

"I'm here because I wouldn't be where I am now and have the family I have and the successes I have if it wasn't for him. He is my idol," former player Mike HIsler said.

"41 years later I still love the man. He inspires me," Barry Hopkins said.

To commemorate the occasion, a bronze plaque with Vince McAneney's likeness was unveiled outside the field that now bears his name.

The amazing and energetic 78-year-old is the father of 4 and has 13 grandchildren and an extended family of hundreds of former players who say they are better men today because of Coach Mac.

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