An enormous coaching pillar has just left the Nashville high school sports scene with the passing last week of Lipscomb Academy football coach Glenn McCadams.
In a real sense, Glenn McCadams was Lipscomb football. Since 1982 and for 31 seasons, the former Huntingdon High lineman roamed the sidelines for the Mustangs — more than all nine of the school’s previous coaches combined.
Under his leadership, Lipscomb won state championships three times — 1994, 2002 and 2007, along with four runner-up finishes. He was named state high school coach of the year in 2008.
McCadams died early last Thursday morning at age 66 from complications of mantle cell lymphoma. He underwent surgery March 7 to remove tumors and left the hospital a few days later. But he returned last Tuesday when complications arose.
He was coach for 44 years in all, including nine as an assistant under legendary Milan coach John Tucker. He took his team to the postseason (counting bowl games) 27 out of the next 30 years.
McCadams took Lipscomb to the playoffs 22 times. The last one came after his team clinched a berth in what turned out to be his final home game at Lipscomb last October in Week 10 when the Mustangs collected a win over Stratford.
From 1993-2010, he took Lipscomb on 18 consecutive playoff trips.
McCadams’ Lipscomb teams were 288-100, and his overall mark of 319-112 placed him among the top 10 career leaders in coaching wins in Tennessee.
Above all else, McCadams was the consummate ambassador of good sportsmanship. He never complained about losses or “bad calls” and never spoke badly of another team or another coach. His players exhibited class as well.
He was quit-witted and could joke with friends and sportswriters. But he was completely serious when practices and Friday nights rolled around. You could count on a McCadams team always being well prepared.
His best may have been the 1994 team, which finished 15-0 and easily won the 2A championship at Vanderbilt.
“I love coaching you guys,” he said after a big win a few years ago. “I could go to war with you all, I love how you give it all your all every game.”
“Glenn McCadams is one of the finest men I have ever known,” Lipscomb Academy athletic director Mike Roller said. “He was exactly who you want coaching your kids, not because he would make them better athletes — which he did — but because he would make them better people.
“Yes, he was a Hall of Fame coach, but even with that very well-deserved recognition, he was a far better person than he was a coach.”
One of the top tributes came from one of his ex-players.
“Coach Mac knew when to push me to my limits, when to treat me like the man he knew I should be and when to just be gentle and understanding,” Sloan Burton, who was quarterback of the Mustangs in the mid-1990s, said on his Facebook page. “He taught me many things on the field that are invaluable to this day. However, what he taught me off the field is what meant the most. His goal in life was to mold young me to become champions off the field. He taught us hard work, integrity, commitment, honesty and respect.
“His one true goal in life was to make sure we knew the Lord. I have been blessed in my life to have known and been influenced by some truly great men and coach Mac was at the top of the list. Coach will be missed but the world is a better place because he walked it.”
“Lipscomb Academy has lost an irreplaceable icon in its history and its soul,” Lipscomb University president L. Randolph Lowry said in a release. “Coach Mac’s time with the academy spans three decades and several generations of students. He knew his game, and he taught it well.
“But more than that, he knew that the most important thing he was teaching was character and faith. Day after day, year after year, he taught thousands of young people they had it within themselves to be better than they thought they could be, on the field and in life.”
McCadams is survived by his wife of 43 years, Alacia and two children, Chip (serving in the military in Afghanistan) and Jill, and seven grandchildren.
Visitation is 3-8 p.m. Monday and 11 a.m.-noon Tuesday at Brentwood Hills Church of Christ, 5120 Franklin Pike. Funeral service will follow at noon Tuesday.
An army of a Who’s Who of coaches along with his many friends throughout Tennessee are expected to attend.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that gifts be made to the Lipscomb Academy football program, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or the American Red Cross.
Rest in peace, Coach Mac.