Surrounded by family, friends, colleagues and current and former students, Bonham Middle School Coach Ben McAdams, better known as Coach Mac, was feted with a retirement celebration in the school’s library.
McAdams has been in coaching for 39 years, 37 of them with Ector County Independent School District instructing middle school students.
At the event, which attracted a full house, Principal James Ramage presented McAdams with a plaque with his years of service specified and said the boys’ gym would be named in the coach’s honor.
“He’s just a legend,” Ramage said. “He’s coached so many of our boys here and also their parents. We’re celebrating his retirement. He’s impacted so many lives over the years and so we’re just honored that we have this opportunity to honor him with this reception for just a wonderful career.”
For his part, McAdams is modest about having part of the campus that was such a staple of his career bear his name.
“It’s a great honor. It’s humbling. They did it yesterday (May 21). I was bright red because there have been some really good coaches at this school …,” McAdams said.
He listed a number of coaches and said he probably was just here longer.
“Mr. Ramage was my principal here when I first got to Bonham and I’m really happy he’s my principal now. He’s a great principal; a great man. The staff here is just so supportive,” McAdams said.
Although McAdams hadn’t played basketball since eighth grade, he started his career as a hoops coach in Texline, Texas. He graduated from Odessa High School in 1968 and attended Odessa College and West Texas State University in Canyon, now West Texas A&M University. He majored in physical education and minored in history.
McAdams also served four years in the U.S. Navy.
He has three siblings, one of whom is a twin brother, and all of them have coached.
“My older brother (Evertt) is six years older and he’s a coach. When I was 16, I worked at the swimming pools here in Odessa. In the mornings, they had a baseball program for the youth. I coached over at Southside (Baseball) Park. I coached baseball, so I’ve been coaching since I was 16. Some of those kids, I got their kids later on,” McAdams said.
When he started teaching, McAdams said his wife told him if he ever got the grandchild of one of his players, he needed to retire.
“I’m pretty close to that point, so it’s time to retire,” he said.
He’s also 69 and said he doesn’t move like he used to. In retirement, McAdams plans to volunteer, work with his church, First United Methodist Church, and find a part-time job to stay busy.
McAdams said he has enjoyed being around the students and will miss that, along with colleagues. He added that it’s a good thing a coach doesn’t have to be good at sports to do their job.
“It’s a matter of taking them from not knowing much about football, basketball and track and getting them to the point where when they get to high school they’re successful there,” McAdams said. “The goal was always to produce players that would … go deep in the playoffs and win state championships in football, basketball, or track. I loved all the sports. I was always ready for the next sport to come around because I enjoyed coaching that sport.”
He added that he liked being around middle school students, even though some might run screaming from the idea.
“I think they latch on to you a lot easier than the high school kids do. They like someone that will take time with them and kid around with them. I’m known for my thump. That’s taking my hand and putting it up on their forehead and (putting) my middle finger back and hitting them on the forehead,” McAdams said.
He asked a group of students what he was known for and they said his thump.
“I thumped their dad. Their dads don’t mind me thumping them, but if a kid refuses a thump they don’t have to (take one),” McAdams said.
He and his wife have two children and one grandchild.
McAdams’ twin brother, Ken, said Ben lasted a lot longer than he did in coaching.
Ken McAdams said he retired 10 years ago, after coaching two years in Odessa and 27 in Plainview.
Their oldest brother, Evertt, got into coaching first. He spent his first three years in junior high at Clint, then moved to Plains, worked at the junior high there for one year and was head track and cross country coach until 1999. “Then I volunteered in Plains for 16 years as a cross country coach,” Evertt said.
He added that the late Lacy Turner, an Odessa High School coach, was like a grandfather to him, and he even named his oldest son after Turner.
“I loved sports; I loved history. I planned on being a history teacher. He got me into coaching park league baseball here. I liked it, and when I got out of college, I looked for a coaching job and found it. It’s been that way ever since,” Evertt said.
Julie Jones, McAdams’ sister, also coached at one point. She said McAdams and her other brothers have worked really hard, and impacted many children’s lives by giving them motivation to move on in school. She added that they are good at what they do because they love it.
Joe Soto, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Bonham, said McAdams is a really good coach who likes to talk about how football used to be and how they can relate to previous players, try to be like them and strive to be better.
“He’s a great dude. … Nobody has anything bad to say about him — parents or athletes,” Soto said.
PHS Head Football Coach Blake Feldt said McAdams is a great coach, but an even better man.
“He’s made such a difference in so many young men’s lives during his service here at ECISD,” Feldt said.
Feldt added that McAdams also helped him when he arrived six years ago.
“He’s certainly going to be missed. He’s a great guy and I don’t know what we’re going to do without him,” he said.
McAdams’ plaque at the reception table:
>> 39 years of employment.
>> Over 14,000 days; hundreds of problems to solve.
>> Countless projects; lots of meetings.
>> Unforgettable friendships; everlasting memories.
>> One happy retiree.
>> The best is yet to come; retired 2018.