Southern Regional High School football coach Chuck Donohue Sr. received a plaque Wednesday night.
It stirred up a lot of memories.
Donohue, 62, whose career spans four decades and four high schools, was inducted into the South Jersey Football Hall of Fame. He was the selection group's Outstanding Coach award winner.
"It takes you out of the focus of the upcoming season and puts it on the last 42," Donohue Sr. said Thursday.
Other honorees included Mainland Regional grad and former New York Jets player Greg Buttle (Outstanding NFL player) and former Ocean City coach Ed Woolley (Legend Award).
Donohue's career record is 217-147-4, including 8-2 in 2011. He gave his players and coaching staffs all the credit for the honor.
"If you get the right men working for you and the right kids buying into what you're trying to do, you can find success. The best way to describe it is that we're all in it together," Donohue said.
Donohue became the first coach in the state to lead four programs - St. Joseph, Haddon Heights, Buena Regional and Southern - to the state playoffs and to South Jersey sectional championship games.
At each school, he took a struggling program and made it successful.
"That's one thing my dad's always been great at doing," said his son, Chuck Donohue Jr., Southern's athletic director. "He always left the program better than it was when he took over. I mean that as far as enthusiasm and energy, too. He loves the game of football."
Donohue Sr.'s passion for the sport and coaching benefit all of the Rams' athletic programs, not just football.
Craig Henry, the Southern Regional School District superintendent, said Donohue's approach has positively impacted all of the Rams' teams.
"I know of no more deserving individual for an honor of this distinction that coach Donohue," Henry said. "Southern's student athletes are individuals more equipped to face the rigors and challenges of life beyond high school athletics because of the values (he) has instilled."
Guiding lackluster programs to success created some of Donohue's favorite memories as a coach. What he's loved even more is getting to see his former players years later as grown men.
Donohue runs into former players from time to time. He said it makes him happy to see them having grown into great husbands, fathers and professionals. He'd like to think their time under his leadership helped them along the journey.
"If you can create that kind of atmosphere for the kids, then when you see them as adults, that's when you get your rewards," Donohue said.
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