A Giant Promise Has A Fan In New England
Dec 17, 2015Posted by james

Pat McGillis lives deep in New England Patriot territory in Brockton, Massachusetts. But, she roots for Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants.

When Jay McGillis, Pat’s son, was diagnosed with leukemia, he was on Coughlin’s Boston College team. She said Coach Coughlin’s love and compassion were endless. Tears pour from her eyes when she recalls that her son had such an impact on his coach.

Jay was a strapping strong-side safety at BC during the early 1990s. He had impressed the coach with his work ethic and intense play. During Coughlin’s first year at the school, the sophomore became ill as the team played against Syracuse University. Jay’s glands were swollen and the original thought was that the young man had contracted mononucleosis.

Soon after, the diagnosis was cancer. Jay died at home eight months later. He was just 22.

Coach Coughlin and his wife were touched by the response of family, friends and teammates, and they vowed that if they ever had a chance to give back that it would be in the spirit and in the name of Jay McGillis.

Coughlin kept his word. While in Florida as the first head coach of the NFL expansion Jacksonville Jaguars, Coughlin established the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation. The foundation started with a golf tournament that raised $36,000.

Today, the foundation serves families in Jacksonville and in the New York metropolitan area, offering financial, emotional and practical support services for those diagnosed with leukemia. This past October, the fund’s 11th annual children’s gala raised $1.5 million.

A recent newspaper interview summed up Coach Coughlin’s work in the eyes of his biggest fan in New England.

“It’s just heartwarming,” said Pat McGilllis. “I’ve seen him visiting these children…and his love and his compassion [are evident]. What Tom Coughlin has done to keep Jay’s spirit alive is overwhelming.”


Wrestling With The Loss Of A Beloved Coach
Dec 03, 2015Posted by james

The walls in the wrestling room at Suffern High School in Rockland County are covered with team newspaper clippings and photos. These mementos remind the student-athletes about the accomplishments of the program over the years.

When the new season began last month, everyone involved with the team approved of the prominently displayed new addition. The words “Never, never, never give up” were placed on the wall and were followed by “There is no place like home.”

The quotes were attributed to the late Suffern Coach Mickey DeSimone, the lifeblood of the program for decades. He passed away a year ago.

DeSimone’s favorite sayings and his wrestling shoes are displayed to symbolize his standing within the Suffern community. Current and former wrestlers feel his constant presence.

“Des” was a Suffern wrestler. He became the head coach during 1989, compiling a career record 220-57. After stepping away, “Des” remained engaged with the program as an assistant for one of his most successful pupils. He remained with the team until his final day.

“Des” influenced many athletes during his coaching days. He even helped a number of them pursue jobs in coaching and education. He was a major role model in the lives of a number of wrestlers, guiding them to success in school, in sports and in life.

For last year’s team, wins and losses became an afterthought following DeSimone’s death. But, deep down, the players knew that no excuse for a lack of focus would have been acceptable to “Des.” So, after all the sadness was addressed, the team got back to work. “Des” would have been pleased. The team started to roll and clinched the championship.

Besides his coaching style to prepare his teams for competition, “Des” also was known for his sense of humor that eased tensions and coaxed players out of bad moods. But, once it was time to be serious, “Des” was deeply serious. This was the “Des” everyone knew, loved and appreciated.

Coach Mickey DeSimone certainly will have a life-long impact on the student-athletes who he considered part of his family.