Saturday, August 16, 2008

A coach who was "like a professor"

Fifty years ago, a coach by the name of Bud O'Meara led Stamford (Conn.) High School to consecutive state football titles, going 18-0.

I saw a note about Coach O'Meara, who died recently at the age of 90, and was impressed by what a colorful life he lived. Some highlights:

He attended Notre Dame on a football scholarship, playing for coach Elmer Layden, one of the Four Horsemen. He was also a member of ND's basketball and gymnastics teams. He graduated from Notre Dame in 1941 and went on to earn a Master's degree from Fairfield University.

After college, he served as a Lieutenant in the Navy, flying off battleships. He earned the Air Medal for his combat duty.

After World War II, he joined the staff at Stamford High, where he'd gone to school, taking over as head coach in 1958. In addition to coaching football, he also coached American Legion Baseball teams for almost a decade, winning five Connecticut State Championships, and was a scout for the NY Giants.

Here's how those who knew him described him:

"He was a great organizer. He broke down every element of the game and had everyone practice in groups rather than as a team. He was also a great motivator. He had respect for the players and never raised his voice, but he was a great disciplinarian and there was no fooling around while he was coaching. 'Buddy' was a very principled man and a man you wanted to follow. He was a great mentor for me."

"He was very precise about everything. He was a perfectionist. Coach O'Meara was stern, but not vociferous, but you knew he meant business at all times."

"He was like a professor. He went over all the little details. He was always encouraging and explained how to do the right thing as opposed to what you did wrong."

"He gave the coaches the independence to do what they had to do with the offense or defense or special teams. He was a character builder and had strong motivational techniques."