By JAQUELINE HUERTA
From the Tuesday morning announcements to the Friday night football games, chances are any given student on University High School’s campus has heard Coach Kevin McCaffrey’s (Athletics Dept.) spirited cheer: “Go Trojans!”
McCaffrey has held several coaching positions for University High School athletics teams with the most recent being the head boys’ baseball coach and head of the athletics department. However, this year Coach McCaffrey has left UHS for personal reasons to work at Corona Del Mar High School.
Coach McCaffrey said he will miss working with the boys’ baseball team the most and stated, “This is a special group of guys and I thank them for working so hard last year.”
In addition to his tremendous involvement in the athletics department of the school, Coach McCaffrey is also accredited with founding the Trojan Army, University High School’s spirit organization, which is arguably one of the most passionate and unified in all of Orange County. The Trojan Army is responsible for supporting essentially all school activities, such as sporting events, theatre productions, and fine arts presentations.
“I will always remember conversations I had about starting a spirit club and how others thought it wouldn’t work at UNI. I think we proved that wrong,” McCaffrey shared as one of his most meaningful memories from all his years working at UHS.
Coach McCaffrey had worked with Coach Mark Cunningham (Athletics Dept.) for the past 11 years and still considers him a highly respected mentor who has shaped him into a better teacher and coach.
According to Coach Mark Cunningham, “[Coach Kevin McCaffrey] probably had the single biggest impact of anybody I’ve ever known in my thirty two years at University.” Coach Cunningham cited several examples of Mr. McCaffrey’s incredible contributions to the school throughout the past eleven years, from improvements in the athletic facilities to the foundation of the Trojan Army.
Coach Cunningham has felt Coach McCaffrey’s impact on a deeper level stating, “When I was sick with cancer, he was the head coach for the football team when I was gone.”
Neah Lekan (Sr.), this year’s Boys’ Sports Commissioner, has also worked closely with Mr. McCaffrey due to both of their immense involvement in student activities through ASB. Lekan shares a fond memory from his freshman year,
“We were trying to get all the councils out to Pack the Gym Night and [Mr. McCaffrey] said he would provide all the freshmen with ice cream and would pay for it through the Trojan Army. We had all this ice cream set up in the gym, which I don’t know if was against the rules, but we did it anyway.”
His biggest takeaway from this experience was that,
“Coach McCaffrey was always about making sure that everyone could buy into the Trojan Spirit in every possible way. It’s going to be his legacy on campus.”
These words definitely ring true, even students who have had a more limited contact with Mr. McCaffrey can agree they have felt the extent of his influence .
Michelle Zoltany (Jr.) knew Mr. McCaffrey as her tennis coach during the off-season her freshman year, and despite having only interacted with him for a couple of months, she can attest to his invaluable impact on the Girls’ Tennis Team that year.
“Even when [the tennis team] didn’t feel like doing something, he would say, ‘You should still try, because if you do, you will get better’, which definitely helped our team, especially with our footwork,” Zoltany recalls.
One thing is certain: the loss of Coach McCaffrey’s presence on campus will certainly be felt by staff, students, and athletes alike, but McCaffrey’s legacy encourages every staff member and student at UHS to continue expanding the Trojan Army and spreading the spirit by staying involved in school activities. In an email from Coach McCaffrey, the final message he wished to share with University High School, in all bolded, capital letters was: “GO TROJANS!”