Thursday, January 6, 2011

A lasting image of a Hall-of-Famer

(Herald file photo)

Paul Maechtle, Southeast's head football coach, gets inducted into the Florida Athletic Coaches Association's Hall of Fame during a ceremony this weekend in Daytona Beach.
Maechtle's accomplishments are many - including 262 wins and two state championships - but there is one memory of Maechtle forever wedged in my mind.
And it happened far beyond the sidelines of John Kiker Memorial Stadium.
This was back when Southeast was still a Class 5A school. The volleyball program was in a rebuilding season, a few years removed from last fall's district championship squad, and entered the District 12 tournament with the eighth and final seed.
The Seminoles' first-round opponent? Perenially top-seeded Venice, which also doubled as the tournament's host.
It was a given Venice going to win the match. Probably sweep it, too.
All of a sudden, the doors to Venice's gym swung open, and in walked Maechtle, who also served and still serves as Southeast's athletic director. He ambled over to the bleachers, sat a few rows behind the Noles' bench and began dishing out encouragement.
He implored them to keep their heads up. He applauded their effort and refusal to quit. And when it was over, and Venice rolled to its expected win, Maecthle again offered up some kind words.
Keep in mind this was the fall, which meant Maechtle had spent the previous two hours running football practice. Keep in mind this was late in the fall, meaning his Noles were probably prepping for a key district game. And keep in mind the volleyball match was in Venice, roughly 30 miles from Southeast's campus.
But there he was, cheering on a volleyball team really had no chance of winning, but was giving everything it had. That was enough for Maechtle.
And that's what I will always think of when I think of Paul Maechtle.
He's a Hall-of-Fame coach, sure.
But most importantly, he is a Hall-of-Fame person.

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