Southern Chuck Donohue Jr. and Sr.
Chuck Donohue Jr., left, and Chuck Donohue Sr. celebrate the elder coach's 200th career victory.ther and me is after my father's 200th win last October. Chuck Jr. is Southern's new athletic director. Donohue family photo, October 2009

Southern Regional High School football coach Chuck Donohue Sr. remembers bringing his oldest son Chuck Jr. to practice with him when he was the coach at St. Joseph.

Donohue Sr. would drive the 3-year-old to Hammonton in their Volkswagon camper.

"He's always been around sports," the Stafford Township resident said by telephone Thursday.

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Chuck Donohue Jr., a 12-year assistant to his father for the Rams football program, was recently hired as the new athletic director at Southern, one of the largest high schools in southern New Jersey.

Donohue Jr. was a special education teacher, assistant boys track coach and freshman boys and girls basketball coach.

He is taking over for Kim DeGraw-Cole who held the position since 1984. DeGraw-Cole is now the assistant director for the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.

"He's taking over a program where the expectations are very high, and I think he's the right guy for the job," Donohue Sr. said. "He has experience coaching girls and boys sports and has a very good feel for athletes. As a father, I am very happy and proud of him. As a head football coach, I think we're getting a guy that will bring energy and direction to the overall athletic programs that have already been very successful."

Donohue Jr. aims to have a system where each program receives equal support. He also plans to make decisions based on the benefits of the student-athletes. He also feels that his 12 years in the district will help because he already knows what the district is all about.

"I know I'm definitely going to be challenged because of the success that the athletic program has had under the guidance of DeGraw-Cole, but I'm also very excited," said Donohue Jr., who lives with his wife Tamara in the Manahawkin section of Stafford Township just a few blocks from his father.

"Our community does a great job of supporting our programs and with that comes the responsibility of the athletics program to make sure we are putting out a program that is a good representative of our community."

Donohue Jr. said he's not sure if he will continue to help coach the football team with his father. But after spending 12 years working under him, Donohue Jr. will also be faced with the challenge of becoming his father's boss. Something both of them say is nothing to worry about.

"When we throw the boss word around in my family it means my mom, Violet," Donohue Jr. said jokingly.

Donohue Jr. said he and his father have a good relationship because his father always made him be his own individual and let him find his own way. Donohue Jr. also said that the fact that he and his younger sister and brother Alon and Jim never played directly under him helped.

When Donohue Jr. played football for St. Joseph and his siblings played sports for Hammonton, his father was coaching at Buena Regional. So Donohue Jr. said he was never pressured, which allowed his love for sports to grow naturally.

Donohue Sr. finds the change to be a little unusual, but it doesn't bother him. He's always had a lot of respect for athletic directors due to the demands that come with the position.

"I hope I do a job that doesn't call for us to have any problems, but if we do, we can separate the job from the personal part of it," Donohue Sr. said. "It's not like this was a shock or a surprise. Being the athletic director is something he's wanted to do for years. I think it's very unusual for the son to be the boss over the father, but our relationship has always been strong so it (shouldn't be affected)."

Donohue Jr. feels he owes some his success to the town of Hammonton where he grew up. As he's gotten older, he realizes how fortunate he was to grow up in such a town with such a rich sports tradition.

"My fondest memories of sports and the lessons I learned were from the little league there, the Bulldogs basketball program and my time spent as a Hawk for the St. Joseph football program," he said.

Contact Kelly Ashe:


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