Former Lipscomb quarterback Ethan Flatt felt football at his alma mater should have been a requirement.
Such was the respect he felt for longtime Mustangs coach Glenn McCadams, 66, who died early Thursday morning from complications of mantle cell lymphoma.
"For years, I've maintained that every young man at Lipscomb should play football for Coach Mac, regardless of talent level or athletic ability," said Flatt, a 2002 graduate who went on to play at Ole Miss and now works as a local attorney.
"It was the experience of being a Lipscomb football player -- the single most impactful of my life -- that has provided me and hundreds of other former players with lifelong memories and instilled in us the values of attitude, work, hustle, pride and class (AWHPC, which is all over Lipscomb's locker room). All of that is directly attributable to Coach Mac."
McCadams led the Mustangs to three state championships, most recently in 2007, and four runner-up finishes over a 31-year coaching tenure at the school. He came to Lipscomb in 1982 following four years at Peabody in his native West Tennessee. He compiled a 319-112 career record, ranking among the state's winningest coaches.
"He loved Lipscomb, but he saw the big picture," said Bernard Childress, executive director of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. "He attended our board meetings any time he had an opportunity. He was here to make sure he kept up with all the things that were going on with the organization. Any current issue that was facing the TSSAA, he was well aware of and well on top of it.
"He was also one of the coaches we identified when we needed to revamp our playoff system. He's just one of those honorable individuals who's touched the lives of everybody he's been around and he's going to be very, very, truly missed."
McCadams underwent surgery to remove a series of tumors on March 7. He left the hospital following that procedure, but returned early Tuesday, assistant coach Mark Pugh said.
At the conclusion of the 2012 season, McCadams was one of three active 300-game winners in Tennessee, along with Alcoa's Gary Rankin and Gatlinburg-Pittman's Benny Hammonds.
"We got to know each other pretty well since I got to Maplewood," Panthers coach Arcentae Broome said. "We formed a pretty good relationship. We'd spend some Saturdays exchanging film, and 10 or 15 minutes might become an hour-and-a-half talk, sitting there at the Shoney's by (the) Titans stadium. Him being a seasoned coach, I'd bounce some things off him, get some tips and pointers. He talked about retiring, but he'd say, 'I'm going to try to stay one more year.'
"When I heard about his health, I immediately dropped everything and went by, spent a few minutes with his wife and daughter, talked to them a little bit. He was a trailblazer for our sport, for the coaches here in Nashville. He was one of the good guys in this city."
McCadams is survived by his wife of 43 years, Alacia, and their two children, Chip (currently serving in Afghanistan) and Jill; and seven grandchildren, Sam, Nate, Eli, Grace, Mary Frances, Abby and Michael.
"We had some great games, some great competition, with them over the years," said Stewarts Creek coach David Martin, who spent more than 20 years at Lipscomb rival Goodpasture. "What a great man of character and mentor he was for those young men. The impact he had on that school and community was great. There's going to be a big void there."
"He was just a great, great man," retired TSSAA executive director Ronnie Carter said. "He touched so many people from one end of the state to the other through football, athletics and education. So many of those people feel they've lost their best friend."
Prior to becoming a head coach, McCadams spent nine years as an assistant at Milan under John Tucker. He also counted his high school coach, Huntingdon's Paul Ward, as one of his influences.
He was a three-sport athlete in high school, but gave up football after suffering a back injury as a junior. He continued to play basketball and baseball, and pursued baseball at Bethel.
Nashville accountant Ryan Blankenship played defensive back on Lipscomb's 2002 Class 2A championship team and on the 2003 state runner-up squad.
"It's just a surreal moment," he said. "You don't ever think this day is coming. We won a lot of games playing for him, but more than that, he taught us how to become men. Winning was a by-product of that.
"He loved every one of his players, from the top one all the way down to the managers. That's the thing that sticks out."
Clarksville financial advisor Rob Copeland played running back and linebacker on the Mustangs' 1994 Class 2A title team after transferring from Brentwood Academy, where he was a member of the Eagles' 1991 championship team.
"You can't say enough how much he touched everybody," he said. "He was such a great character person and role model. Everybody has issues growing up, but he always had a good moral compass. He'd rather not win than bend a rule.
"(His death) shows you how delicate life is."