New Horizons: Horde athletics open without Macura for first time in 36 years

F or the first time since 1976, Mike Macura will not be preparing for a sports season at Granville High School.

Those who know Macura are not at all surprised he’s found another place to pour his energies and coaching skills into.

“Coaching at Castleton is the perfect thing for him to be doing. Those young men are getting someone really special,” said Eileen Troy, the incoming president of the N.Y. State High School Athletic Association and a longtime colleague of Macura’s. “You knew he would find a place.”

Macura, who retired last June after serving the Granville school community over  parts of five decades as a physical education teacher at his alma mater, is entering his third year as an assistant football coach at Castleton State College, where he coaches linebackers. His youngest son Ethan is a sophomore defensive tackle for the Spartans.

“We’re going at 100 mph an hour,” said Macura, who took a few minutes from his busy days with the Spartans to talk about his long career at Granville. By his own accounting, combining varsity, junior varsity and modified sports, he coached football for 34 years, baseball for 18, basketball for 14, track for four and softball for one. He became athletic director in 1984. When he arrived, fresh out of Norwich University, the school had nearly all the sports it has now, with the exception of soccer. Under Macura’s direction, the Horde became a solid, all-around program.

 

Voice heard today

Coach Mario Torres’ players, who are preparing to open the 2012 season on Aug. 31 at Corinth, hear Macura’s messages constantly, even though he’s nowhere near their sideline.

“Some of the stuff I use and say now — ‘expect the unexpected,’ ‘be prepared,’ — are things that I learned from him,” said Torres, who played for Macura at Granville and went on to Sacred Heart University. “He was a great guy to play for. He always had us ready.”

Macura also knew all those players, and the rest of the students in the school.

“From the day I started, I loved bus duty. It’s the greatest thing to greet the kids in the morning, by name,” he said. “I used to go through my sons’ yearbooks to find the names of the kids coming in. You’d greet them by name, and the kid would look up at you and think, ‘How does he know who I am?’”

Of the thousands of athletes he worked with, Macura remembers many, including a thin, young baseball player named Rick Roberts, who said he wanted to play football.

“Doesn’t he go out and catch the game-winning pass when we upset unbeaten Mechanicville in 1984?” Macura recalled. “And then he intercepts a pass.” Roberts is now the village’s clerk-treasurer.

“Mike had an excitement for the game, and that was infectious,” Roberts said. “Because he had the excitement, he passed it on to us.

“He had a passion for winning, but he also had a passion for excellence that he instilled in you.”

 

‘Organized man’

Marc Lambert, who coached under and with Macura, says the Castleton players are getting an organized coach who is also an excellent teacher.

“First and foremost, you see his level of organization and his responsibility. If he says he’s going to be there, he’s there,” said Lambert, who worked under Macura as an AD and as head baseball coach with Macura as an assistant coach.

“With Mike, he would ask any question he had, then go and do what needed doing.

“As an athletic director, he expected the coaches to be accountable for paperwork, practice and everything else they needed to do,” Lambert said. “I found him to be reasonable and to be an excellent sounding board.”

The word “organized” pops up time and again when those who worked with Macura talk about him.

“He was highly organized,” said Troy, who worked with Macura at length as the athletic director at Greenwich and as part of the Wasaren League and Section II athletics. “I cannot think of many people more organized than he was. He’s a man of integrity, unparalleled integrity. He tried to do all the right things for all the right reasons. He knows what he’s talking about.”

 

Off to school

The only time Macura has not lived in Granville was spent at Norwich University, where he earned a bachelor of science in physical education and a master’s degree in physical education and athletic administration.

Macura lists Cadets’ coach Barry Mynter as one of the major influences on his coaching and teaching philosophies. The others are Brent Steurwald, who retired after 44 years at Shenendehowa High School at Clifton Park, and former Granville coach Ken Burch, who was Macura’s cooperating teacher when he student-taught at GHS.

Macura joined the school’s staff in 1976 and held a variety of coaching positions, including three stints as the school’s head football coach. He stepped down as head coach in 2006, but he remained as an assistant until he went to Castleton.

The new athletic director is long-time wrestling coach Steve Palmer, who is in the Army Reserve and away at training.

Macura was a link to Burch, with whom he coached in the 1970s and 1980s. The school’s athletic complex is named after Burch. Together, Burch and Macura coached the Horde to the Section II, Division 5 title in 1981.

“He and I were best of friends and he was my mentor,” Macura said. “We played on traveling teams, and we always hung out together. On Thursdays, we used to head far into Vermont for raccoon hunting. He was a hunter, I wasn’t. But I went and we talked about what would happen during the game Saturday.”

Macura helped Granville schedule its first night football game in 2005 and was also instrumental in realigning Section II football, even though he was saddened by the loss of some traditional rivalries.

 

Memories

There are few others in the Granville schools today who worked with Macura during the early days.

“I think it’s testimony to him to last in that position as long as he did,” said Lambert, who also added “loyal” to his list of Macura’s superlatives. “He gave tremendously to the school district with his years of service. They certainly got good value out of his work.”

He is a member of the American Football Coaches Association, N.Y. State Football Coaches Association and the National Strength and Conditioning Association and was the supervisor of strength and conditioning in Granville. He has been an adjunct instructor at SUNY-Adirondack for more than 15 years.

Macura, who has lived in Granville for nearly all his life, is married to Mary Ann Macura, and the couple has three sons – Michael, Adam and Ethan.

“I always had the support of my parents, and my wife and boys,” he said. “My wife was unbelievable. She has been a strong backbone.”

“The youngest Macura is a 6-foot-5, 245-pound defensive lineman who is one of three Granville players on the Spartans’ roster. The others are junior Ron Daigle, a 6-0, 300-pound junior offensive tackle, and freshman wide receiver Connor Hoagland, who is listed at 6-2, 210.

 

‘Hasn’t hit yet’

Macura said he hasn’t really had a chance to think about what he’s going to miss about his job.

“This summer was really different. Usually you have a lot of work to do, but I was able to go on a two-week vacation, then football started at Castleton.

“I have been too busy to think about it. What I am going to miss hasn’t hit me yet,” he said. “But I am pretty sure what I am going to miss the most is getting to spend time with the kids at school. That’s what it was all about.”

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