Connecticut High School Football

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Jerry McDougall, Trumbull and Connecticut coaching legend, dies at 76

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Jerry McDougall with the 1989 Trumbull football team. Connecticticut Post File Photo

Jerry McDougall

Jerry McDougall, a pillar of Connecticut and national high school athletics for more than 50 years, died Wednesday morning. He was 76.

[Related: McDougall's voice will live forever in a chorus of thousands | Sean Patrick Bowley]

A member of both the National High School and Connecticut High School Hall of Fame, McDougall’s Trumbull football teams reigned supreme in Connecticut from 1967-1998.

During his tenure, Trumbull won an unprecedented 265 games, three state championships and five FCIAC championships. He coached five undefeated teams and finished No. 1 in the state four times. McDougall retired as the all-time winningest football coach in state history and influenced countless people in Trumbull, Fairfield County and Connecticut.

“I lost my best friend, my role model and a father figure,” said Joe Markus, who starred on McDougall’s first state championship team and went on to play at UConn. “He taught me right from wrong. He knocked me down and picked me back up. He was the man.”

McDougall’s baseball teams were just as dominant as his football teams. He won 510 games, nine division titles, three FCIAC title and two Class LL championships in four appearances. McDougall served as Trumbull’s athletic director, track and field coach. He started the wrestling program, which flourishes to this day.

“Coach McDougall was one of a kind,” said Petroccio, who played on McDougall’s first state championship team in 1977 and later worked with him as an assistant coach before taking the head coaching job at Staples.

“There will never be another guy like him. He loved the game of football. He loved people. He loved life.”

Assistant Michael Herbst (left) confers with Trumbull coach Jerry McDougall in 1989.

For all of his accomplishments, McDougall amassed a dizzying resume of state and national coaching accolades. He was the Connecticut High School Coaches Association’s football coach of the year in 1976 and baseball coach of the year in 1995. He earned the same honors from the National High School Athletics Federation in 1993 (football) and 2003 (baseball).

“Everybody will talk about Jerry McDougall the coaching legend, which he was. But I speak of his humanity. He helped people throughout his life. He was a great human being,” said Trumbull athletic director Mike Herbst, who was an assistant football coach under McDougall for 28 years.

“The things he taught the kids about life, the kids never realized it at the time. They thought he was being too tough. But they’d come back years later and say thank you for getting on them and busting their ass, making them the best they could be. The lessons he taught them, they’d use later in life.”


McDougall served as president of both the Fairfield County Athletic Association and Connecticut High School Coaches Association and presided over the Ralph DeSantis Fairfield County Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame for 10 years. He was a member of the CHSCA executive committee and was a member of its board of directors.

He was a lifetime member of both the American Football Coaches Association and the IAABO Board 9 basketball officials.

A Bridgeport native, McDougall was a three-sport star and captain at Bassick High School, where he graduated in 1954. He went on to play football, basketball and baseball at the University of Bridgeport and was captain of the school’s football team in his junior and senior seasons. After spending 13 months in the Army, he returned home to begin his coaching career.

McDougall became football coach at Central Catholic in 1961. Beginning with just a junior varsity team, McDougall turned Central Catholic into a state power within three years. It finished 7-1-1 in 1965 and 8-1-1 in 1966.

He became head coach at Trumbull the next season. The school’s football field is named in his honor.

“Today, Trumbull has lost one of its most cherished residents and I have lost a mentor and friend,” Trumbull first selectman Tim Herbst said. “I have known Jerry McDougall my entire life and I consider it one of life’s greatest privileges in knowing him, knowing his family and playing football for him.”

In his later years, McDougall kept busy. After 10 years away from football, he signed on to coach at St. Luke’s in 2008 and coached as recently as last season.

McDougall is survived by his two children, Jerry McDougall Jr. and Lauren Jorgensen. He was predeceased by his wife, Loretta, who died in 2001.

The Fairfield County chapter honored McDougall with the lifetime achievement award in April. Here’s the emotional speech in what turned out to be his last.

Sean Patrick Bowley

Leave a Reply

85 Responses

  1. Doug Marchetti says:

    God Bless You, Coach Mac — a great leader, a great mentor, and a great man. Words can’t describe how much you’ll be missed.

  2. Steve says:

    Farewell, Jerry, you will be missed, but never forgotten.

  3. Chris Bugyi says:

    Coach Mac just loved being around the field and helping the youth. He was at atleast 10 Trumbull American Legion baseball games this past summer and the players/coaches loved just being able to go over and say hi. What a great great man

  4. Tim St. Onge says:

    THANK YOU!

  5. Tim walenczyk says:

    Coach, he taught his players what it was to be a man, a student. he saw something in his players they didn’t know existed. he was a great man, great coach, and he influences me till this day. It was an honor to play and be one his captains. God speed, Coach. ’82.

  6. Mike Buswell says:

    Coach McDougall instilled character, strong work ethics and good sportsmanship in everyone he coached.

  7. Brian says:

    I remember a moment when Trumbull was killing my high school team in a monsoon rain. At age 17 I knew about Coach Mac but never talked to the man. Late in the 4th quarter of our game with a lopsided score in their favor, I made a tackle in the mud that took coach Mac’s legs out on the sideline. By the time 2 Trumbull kids got off of me coach was already back up and he then helped me up. As he pulled me up he said to me “wonderful job today son, keep playing hard”. I just nodded as to say thanks and that was it. Kind of right at that moment everything I had heard about him I knew was true. He was a great coach but from all indications even a better human being. RIP Coach.

    PS…Trumbull go whip Darien on Saturday in his honor.

  8. Bill Carroll says:

    A man unlike any other. I had. the priviledge of calling him my friend for more than 50 years. A true Bridgeport South-Ender who as everybody knows and the record proves was a great coach but he was even a BETTER person. I know God loves Jerry because Jerry gave so much love to so many people that he touched. He now joins Lollie. Thanks Coach for who you were

  9. Tony Furnari says:

    I am a St. Joes guy but grew up in Trumbull and got to know Coach over the years. He was a great man and a great leader. Truly one of a kind. He will be missed. RIP COACH!

  10. Dave Dunn says:

    Coac McDougall will be missed. He is Connecticut Football.

  11. CTHSFootballRocks says:

    Gee..too bad…. wrong place and time for your comments. Sorry you still have an axe to grind. Get over the fact that you weren’t good enough to make the team. Stop blaming others.

    Coach Mac was a better person than he was a coach. Now that is saying a lot.

  12. Bill OBrien says:

    Coach Mac Dougall and I discussed starting the Hall of Fame Classic All Star game between Fairfield County and New Haven County in 1996. He was a visionary as well as an organizer, leader and dedicated football man who will be greatly missed and I offer the condolences of all the members of the New Haven County Chapter of the National Football Foundation to his family.

  13. jon says:

    To “Gee too bad”: If you were one of the kids or the kids were related to you, sounds like he made the right decision, as you are obviously a disrespectful low life.

  14. Voice of Central says:

    Coach McDougall has had an impact on scores of young athletes. He taught boys how to be men through hard work and dedication. He was a real man making others better. Hope more of us can be like that.

  15. Matt Manzione says:

    “Gee..too bad”…from your ignorant statements…to your emotional pandering babble…to your cowardice of not even having the BALLS to list your name. Just from your words alone, you don’t and will NEVER have what it takes to succeed in life. You should go back and re-read the accomplishments of what Coach Mac has done, and learn from that. If that still does not educate you and shut your mouth, why don’t you come find me and I will!

    Coach – We miss you. We love you. You will always be in our hearts!

  16. Karen Swoboda says:

    Coach McDougall was my Uncle Jerry. As a young person growing up in Danbury, and later attending the University of Rhode Island, I never stopped hearing from people who, upon hearing my last name–McDougall–couldn’t tell me enough about how Coach helped, challenged, and encouraged them. I remain absolutely awed by his impact on so many, for so long. He was a true gentleman, a caring and thoughtful person, a wonderful husband, and proud father to Jerry and Lauren. He will be missed. Rest in Peace with your beautiful Lolly, Uncle Jer. Love you.

  17. Marc Chappell says:

    I had the honor of playing for Coach Mac in 1984 & 1985. Yes 1985. That was the year in which we beat Glastonbury High on Dec 7 in practicaly sub zero temps in Ansonia or Cheshire (somewhere in central CT). Possible one of the biggest upsets in Conn. football history. 27-21 OT victory. Glastonbury was the run away #1 team in the state before that day. We did not win the FCIAC conference championship that year and most experts thought we did not belong on the field that day. Coach Mac knew in his mind and heart we did. He always had inspirational words for each game but I remember his best were for that game. I seem to remember him speaking to show the nasayers who we are and don’t let opinions effect who you are as players and prevent you from your goal. Even though it was some 26 years ago, I would think that everyone on that team remembers that day still today. RIP coach.

  18. Judi says:

    Always a gentleman, always remembered folks, understood that high school football was never just about football.

  19. SWC Fan says:

    SPB – can you please “edit out” the inappropriate comments?

    Thanks

  20. Tim Heald says:

    Very sad day today. My memories of “Coach” go back to his early days at Trumbull. He had a profound impact on me. You will be missed and never forgotten….

  21. another fan says:

    Nice article and video Sean.

  22. John Myers says:

    I was VERY fortunate to play 3 years of varsity football and baseball for my “Dad”, Coach Mac. We had such a challenging relationship. Me a stubborn, stupid teenager and him, a great leader, role-model and, what only the ones that may have played for him would know – very, very, very caring about his “kids” (all of us).

    When I graduated, he came up to me and hugged me, “I will miss you”, he said. In the last 26 years, I saw him a few times – drawn back during times when he would be honored for his many accomplishments.

    But, I never said to him what I should have. “I will miss you Coach more than you will ever know”.

    Coach hated repeat mistakes. I will make sure I honor his pursuit of perfection and never forget to tell anyone I love how I feel again.

  23. Pat McGroin says:

    I never had the opportunity to play for him, but I did play against him and after my playing days got to know him very well. He wasn’t just a coach, wasn’t just a role model, he had a great sense of humor, but he was an incredible person. If you called him coach today he would think you were referring to his dog, named “coach”. I will miss him, and try to live my life the way he lived his.

  24. Chris Zagorski says:

    We have lost a great man, mentor, coach, leader, teacher and friend who will be greatly missed by so many. May we honor his memory by giving back to our community just a portion of what he gave all of us who played for him or knew him. Beyond building great teams, he built boys into men by teaching us about life through the game of Football. His impact on our lives will carry on for generations. Rest in peace Coach, we love you and will miss you.

  25. Peter Pappas says:

    1 of many great stories about Coach Mac.

    It’s about a kid who played for Jerry at T.H.S. This kid never missed a practice or game. This kid, is was what Coach called a Real “PITA.” (Pain in the….) That’s what he considered me and some of the kids who played for him that grew up in the neighborhood where he lived.
    Make a long story short. this kid plays all 3 years at THS and never starts one single game for the Eagles. Not because he was bad player, he even knew the starters ahead of him were just a little better. He just hadn’t grown into his body yet.
    Now comes senior day. traditionally where coach played seniors who earned the right to start and play that one game in there high school career. Unfortunately Jerry and his staff forgot to play him that day. The kid was heart broken. He went home and didn’t say anything to anybody.
    After that game Jerry realized his mistake, first called him then went to that kids house to personally apologize. What Jerry himself didn’t realize was, by going to that kids house and humbling himself to him, actually inspired that kid more than playing in that game could have ever done.
    After that day they earned a mutual respect for each other. That relationship went from player coach right to man to man. Jerry helped and guided that kid to a good Jr. college which propelled him to a full ride at Northwestern University as a starting offensive linemen.
    Of all the real good high school players that went through the Jerry’s football program, this kid who never started in one single game as a eagle, made it to a Big ten school. When I talk Jerry about this years later, He was most proud of the fact that that kid (Raymond Miranti) made a personal success of himself, not just in football and business but more importantly life itself. This is what Jerry ‘s done for so many young men his whole life.
    We both joke about a lesson learned, and that how little humility can go a long long way
    Coach Mac was a real tough guy, but what made him the great man had nothing to do with how tough he was. It was his compassion, humility ,love for his family and friends that truly exemplified the measure of this great man.

    May God bless you and hold you in his arms RIP Coach

  26. That’s an amazing story. Amazing. Wow.

  27. Full says:

    Great story. Even Michael Jordan didn’t start for his High School team. That story epitomizes the type of Man that this Coach was: a Legendary High School Coach who loved his players and will be missed by the entire Fairfield County Sports Scene.

    Sean, Outstanding coverage. Thank you.

  28. Kevin Campifeld says:

    Today my heart is very heavy. There is so many things I can say about Coach McDougall, he was my coach, mentor, and friend. He has touched so many young peoples live that we are truely in debt to him. Coach McDougall did not want the best from you he demanded the best from you, a true motivator. Coach you will be truely missed and I am very lucky to have known such a wonderful person. God bless you.

    Love

    Kevin Campfield
    #77 Defensive Tackle
    85,86 Trumbull High School Football State Champions

  29. Chris Weiner says:

    Coach Mac was the greatest i couldnt have had a better coach
    Love You Coach RIP
    PADS!!!

  30. Coach G says:

    The man was strong yet soft, admired yet feared, humbled yet personable, gruff yet gentle. He knew what to say, when to say it and how to say it. He treated everyone with respect and asked for the same in return. His players always said ‘Yes Sir’ when being called out regardless of the reason why.
    He was revered by the coaching community as ‘the best’. He was a motivator and knew exactly how to push one’s buttons. He knew who he could ride and who had to be cajoled. And in the end everyone was better for it as there were no grudges, it was part of the growing process he so wanted to instill.
    He could have seguayed from sports entirely but his passion as a coach were the ‘kids’. And not just relegated to those who played for him. He was a staunch supporter of Special Olympics. Those kids were very special to him and were his team managers.
    Be it in a win or a loss he treated both the same, lessons in life. He marveled in winning, anguished in a loss yet was respectful of the opponent that particular day despite the outcome.
    He was a family man. His true love pre-deceased him, Lolly, his son and daughter, all were his pride and joy. And oh don’t forget the labs, Bo aand Champ. (those two were the ones I knew). Family was ultra important to coach, a value he passed on to his extended family, players and coaches.
    As he and I always greeted one another be it on the field, at Marie’s, Corner Deli or anytime we encountered one another, as two ex-servicemen, I’d saulte him and say “Hello General” to which he would reply, “Colonel, how ya doing”.
    A saulte to the ‘General’ – you will be missed!

  31. Erica Fucci says:

    Rest in Peace Coach McDougall. Though I did not know you that well, my father Coach Fucci did. He passed away in 10/11/05 and I remember the two of you getting together now and again to go to football games and/or conventions.

    You and my father had the same great attitude and compassion about coaching, and being a great mentor to all. You both were looked up to by many and still are to this day.

    To Mr. McDougall’s family, I extend my deepest condolences to you in this difficult time. May his legacy live on forever.

  32. Ed Rowe says:

    We have lost a legendary figure in the history of high school athletics. Records are made to be broken but the example of his character, his dedication to young men, and his leadership in the coaching fraternity will last forever. We will never forget him. Rest in peace Ed Rowe
    Fairfield Prep(Ret.)

  33. Boomer says:

    You feared him, but also respected him..

    I’ll never forget the day in my sophomore year I was called up to varsity. I fumbled a sweep on my first day of practice, coach turned to me and said “son you better ask Santa for a pair of hands”

    Later than year I suffered an injury that ended my HS FB career. Coach wouldn’t allow me to fall in the “wrong crowd” He gave me a job in his office during my free periods. He kept me involved in sports and on the right path.. He had a loud bark, but a huge heart. Even after I graduated, whenever I ran into coach, He still called me “boomer”

    Thank you Coach, the lessons you taught us prepared us for life off the field. You will be missed.. RIP

    *Hopefully there are no wind sprints in heaven

  34. Gavin Hadden says:

    Coach Mac was not only one of a kind, but he represents a generation that no longer exists. He lived, taught and perpetuated a life of accountability and hard work. He was a man who epitomized class and toughness while maintaining the gentle touch of friend.

    My greatest sadness comes in knowing that the man who lived as a larger- than-life figure is now only legend. It is now the duty of all those who played for him to teach their children, their friends and anyone who listen, what it really means to be a man. In a world that suffers from political correctness and a lack of real men as role models, Coach Mac has never been needed more than now.

    To say he is a dying breed does not do justice to all those he touched. But, as you can tell from the comments on this list just like Coach Mac told me after a long practice of riding me, “when I stop talking to you, that is when you have to worry.”

    Well Coach – no worries we are all talking about you right now, and the lessons you taught us will be spoken through our children for years to come.

  35. Jeff Mitchell says:

    Wow, as someone who never knew the man I must say I am impressed not just with the way he lived his own life, but the way he inspired others to live theirs. Given his amazing influence on the entire CT football scene, it would only be fitting if he were honored before each game this weekend with a moment of silence so that others like me may also learn of Coach Mac’s enduring legacy.

  36. Donny Annicelle says:

    I had the honor of knowing Coach Mac on many levels. I started out as a football waterboy, and was lucky enough to play 2B for him when we won his last baseball state championship in 1998. He was a man built on fundamentals and hard work. He expected execution and demanded respect. Having him on the sidelines and in the dugout truly gave Trumbull an advantage and a confidence that allowed us to be successful.
    I was lucky enough to visit coach twice this past weekend, he was still in great spirits with that beautiful smile and that wonderful memory. He was such a humble man, and such a loving caring person. Coach I will truly miss you. You will always be an angel to me.
    I love you Coach. Donny Baseball

  37. I’ve heard from a few coaches today.

    Former longtime Bunnell coach Bob Mastroni:

    “He was a coach’s coach and a man’s man and I was proud to call him a friend.”

    From Craig Bruno:

    “He was a great mentor for all coaches. From first day I got the job he called me to wish me luck. It meant so much to hear from a coaching legend. We have all lost a great football coach.”

    From former Darien baseball coach Tom Griffin:

    During my years as head baseball coach at Darien HS (late 80′s – early 90′s), while I was trying to replace another legend – George Nelson, Coach McDougall’s and my players enjoyed some great head to head battles on the “field of dreams” during those years. A true gentleman, and a genuine role model, he was ever humble in victory, as well as gracious in defeat, and always carried himself with dignity, representing himself, his school, and his community in exemplary fashion.

    He was also a great American, and a true patriot, standing for everything good about his beloved country. Who will ever forget Jerry leading the assembly of players, coaches, and fans, in reciting our Pledge of Allegiance before his home games – and woe to anyone who would not show proper respect at such times!

  38. Matt Nuzie says:

    My only interaction with Coach McDougal as a Trumbull High student was the day I walked into his office to let him know I was no longer trying out for the baseball team in 2000. I was nervous & scared to confront the Coach. I knew of his greatness and heard stories of his toughness. As a Trumbull High Athlete, I wanted nothing more than to be viewed as a success in his eyes. But the reality was, I was a quitter. Fast-forward 3 years to August 25th, 2003. The day before UConn plays its home opener against Indiana and my College Football debut. I receive a note at my locker and it reads as follows…

    “Hi Matt, I just wanted to send you a short note and wish you and your teammates/coaches best wishes for a great season. You all have worked so very to be in this position as being a successful football program. You are an outstanding young man along with being an excellent role model. We are all very proud of you and you should be proud as well. I’m sure your family feels the same way of you. Just a friendly reminder from an old football coach – Be Positive!!

    Relax – take a deep breath and bang it through there – we all love you!

    I’m sure you heard of this motto/slogan that I created for our Trumbull Eagle Football Program back in 1969:

    PADS – Pride-Attitude-Desire-Sacrifice.

    You have it – never be without it as it can be with you for a lifetime as it applies to each of us in any situation (athletics, school, family, team, business).

    Best Regards & Good Health, Coach Mac

    I was 17 at the time, getting ready to play on the biggest stage of my life – this note made all the difference in the world to me. The fact that the legendary Coach from my home town took time out of his day, to write me a note – not just wishing me good luck, but to write in a way that was full of genuine support, advice and love gave me an extra level of confidence that nothing else could. Come to find out, Coach Mac was not only an Eagle fan; he also was a loyal Husky fan. He continued to write notes before games and followed it up with a phone call after the game. He even traveled with my family to Detroit, to watch my teammates and I play in UConn’s first bowl game.

    My story is just one of many that will be told of how Coach Mac positively impacted someone’s life. And I will be one of many that will miss walking by Coach Mac at a Trumbull High Games and stopping to talk to him for a few minutes.

  39. That’s a great story, Matt. Thanks for sharing.

  40. Phil Pacelli says:

    2.Sean, Thanks for your great coverage on Coach Mac.

    Any man who has been inducted into 7 Halls of Fame was GREAT at what he did. The most recent induction was the Norwalk Old Timers Association last November. I am honored to be one of the lucky few who can say that they played for him AND coached with him. Coach McDougall was the most prepared coach I have even been around. He would buy at least 6 newspapers everyday and clip out every article, box score, and line score he could find. Then come tournament time he would send me to scout our next potential opponent. He would hand me 2 folders, one for each team I was about to go scout. Each folder was full of information on each team. He did this every year and had a folder for each team in the CIAC LL tournament.

    Coach Mac was the most loyal friend anyone can ask for. He meant so much to so many. Thanks for instilling PADS in all of us Coach.
    We will miss you dearly.

    PS- Speaking of UCONN football games…Coach Mac invited took me to a game a while back…he drove his dear friend, the late Walt Czekaj (sp), his dear friend from Stratford and I up to Hartford. Hearing the two of them take shots at each other in the car ride was hilarious. It was a day I will never forget..Coach had the best sense of humor and when he spoke he had the entire room rolling..

  41. Sandra & Ron Brown says:

    Coach McDougall was one of the finest men I have ever met. He has taught and coached so many of our young men, including my son. I enjoyed my conversations with Coach McDougall, he always had a great story to tell and great words of wisdom. May he rest in peace with his wonderful wife. Love to the McDougall family. xo Ron and Sandy Brown, Denver, NC

  42. Mark Nikola says:

    God Bless Coach McDougall. Will always be remembered in my heart as Coach. Thank you for all the life lessons you taught me . PADS

  43. Schuyler Mann says:

    I can still see him standing down the third base line, acting out the deep breath he wanted me to take before I stepped to the plate for an important at-bat. To this day I find myself doing this to calm the nerves and focus prior to any important situation. As Coach Herbst noted, I’m one of the many who grew to appreciate his influence as the years have passed. He was one-of-a-kind. Thank you, Coach McDougall.

  44. Arnold College says:

    I’m not going to die,
    I’m going home
    Like a shooting star.–Sojourner Truth

    A Gerry McDougal does n’t die. He was larger than life and met the criteria of being a legend many decades back. Its hard to believe he was only 75 (depending on which Obit you read). I feel like he has been around 100 years. I have lived in excess of 50 years and probably learned more from him in a week than I have in the past 4 decades. Almost a day does not go by when I use those very skills and gifts he gave me in business or with my children. His gift to anyone he coached was a strong foundation and it was not really related to athletics it was more applicable to life. He was getting everyone ready for those long stretches that lay ahead. The adversity, the triumphs and challenges. He believed in fundamentals and those fundamentals were always ground in hard work, character and in giving.

    The lessons he taught any person willing to listen and what he offered to give universally applied to almost anyone regardless of their “station” or position in school or in the neighborhood. The lessons were about teamwork, integrity and respect for ones self and for others. Gerry’s ideals are those that I have aspired to and tried to pass on. I have enjoyed successes that are attributable directly to him and those lessons had little to do with sports and more to do with life and living it.

    Gerry never really preached – I think he shared and if you were really smart sometimes you just observed him. He practiced what he “preached” and lived his life in a flawless manner . He was never judgmental or overly opinionated. He was dynamic and always open minded (off the field of course and as long as the topic was not the Red Sox) He was kind, caring, approachable. Everything he did he really did by example – that resonated. He was consistent. One would argue that in many ways he was symbolic of a great father – but also in many respects equally symbolic of a great mother. He treated everyone as adults and as individuals. He was stern and very direct – but he would listen, and hear what you had to say. He had standards. He was maternal in that he played an active role in nurturing so many young people. He was always compassionate. He was patient and understood that maturity took time but it was worth the effort to help young people foster their own confidence and develop their own maturity..

    His legacy will continue to live on in the young people he guided and then launched safely into adulthood. As these adults share stories related to their “Mac” experience or to the lessons he taught them with their children and grandchildren which will insure the extension of his legacy and the impact he had on their lives. I knew him as a coach but I remember him as a kind and caring person who loved his family, his community and anyone he ever coached or taught. His value was not in the win or loss columns or even the big games. It was his ability to churn out a “good” and important product which was young men and women ready to embark upon adulthood and life – he made sure as best he could that every young person was armed with the emotional skills and the character to ready lead a fulfilling life.

    “What nobler profession than to touch the next generation–to see children hold your understanding in their eyes, your hope in their lives, your world in their hands. In their success, you find your own and so to them you give your all”.–Unknown (“The Essence of Teaching”)

    You were always a teacher and a giver. I have to imagine everyone is standing and sitting around you shortly after you arrived as you held court- captivating St Peter and the Angels with your stories (some true – some not ;) )all the while as you try to figure out who you can speak to about getting the Red Sox another World Series win.

    Sincerely
    A life you touched – insuring that your lessons and legacy will continually be passed forward from my children to theirs.

  45. Juan Lopez says:

    Mi amigo Jerry,
    !Vaya con Dios!

  46. Jim says:

    As one goes through life, it’s an honor to have been around a MAN like coach McDougall. Men of this stature are truely few and far between. Normally, I would reserve this space to praise my friend, but I feel compelled to reply to comment #8 penned by a coward named “Gee”. This is not the place for your petty gripe. You are obviously a coward, for if you are not, you will surely make an appearence where family and friends gather for this fallen hero and spew your poison in person. Cyberspace is a safe place for keyboard commandos to apply their trade. Prove me wrong.

  47. Brian Rogerson says:

    Coach was a tremendous leader and he made men out of boys. His lessons lasted a lifetime…..I coach Varsity Baseball in AZ and what and how he taught is being passed onto a generation of players that will have never met the man…..How many of us will have an impact on someone’s life 3000 miles away and almost 30 years later? I think that sums up who he really was.

  48. Guido A. Maiolo former Head Football Coach Ridgefield HS says:

    Coach Gerry Mac, We had many hard fought battles on the gridiron and off the field we had a frienship that I will always cherish beyond words. I always respected him as an exceptional coach and exemplified the coaching profession and a man! We worked together on many projects and accomplished many things for the young men of Fairfield County. But most of all I can never thanks him enough for helping me make my transition into coaching in Connecticut after having coached in New York and North Carolina for twenty years. “Thanks” good buddy and I know God will continue to watch over you and Bless you and your family… As you would say to me on many an occassion…Hey paesano…..!

  49. Ed McCarthy says:

    Many, many years ago, I had the distinct pleasure of coaching against Gerry in both baseball and football. He certainly impressed me as a man who was truly committed to everything he was involved with. He was the consummate coach. He was always totally prepared and had a complete concern and respect for his players.

    Over the years, through coaching organizations and committees, we became good friends. We had a tremendous amount of laughs and shared many stories and experiences. Our only sad discussions involved our Red Sox, prior to 2004. I was always learning from him, even though he didn’t realize he was teaching as such. I could say I had a incredible amount of respect for him, but so did everyone who was fortunate enough to cross his path.

    We will all miss him greatly, but we are comforted by the fact he is home with his beloved Lolly.

  50. From one legend to another. Touching words. Thanks Coach McCarthy.

    Hope to see you back on the sidelines soon.

  51. I’m going to add a couple more here:

    From Valerie Saltzman, who started the Trumbull girls hockey program under McDougall’s guidance:

    Jmacdaddy as I got to call him (and only in private) was not only a mentor to those whom he coached but to those of us who were young coaches under him. He was a great teacher, roll model, and boss. I will always remember the respect he commanded and the respect he treated each of us with. A legend is gone.

  52. Jeff Rago says:

    I had the very good fortune of being an assistant coach on Coach Mac’s staff at THS at the end of his baseball coaching career. It was 2003, a storybook year for the THS baseball team and Coach Mac. It was May, we were preparing for a title run, and I had to take a few days off from the team as my father had passed away unexpectedly from a massive heart attack. I was able to attend the FCIAC title game at Harbor Yard, but chose not to join the team on the field as I did not want to be a distraction having been away from the team for the past few days. When the game ended I was in the stands about 100 feet from Coach when he noticed me. He was in the middle of an interview with a reporter when I felt him staring at me. Once Coach knew he had my attention, he lifted his hand, pointed at me with his famous point, and then used that same finger to signal me to come down to the field. I started my walk down the aisle and as I got closer I heard Coach bark at the reporter, “I SAID WAIT ONE MINUTE!” As I got to Coach, as he waited for me against the railing separating the field and the stands, he just put out his arms and gave me a big hug. Coach Mac and my father were the same age. For that moment that Coach held on to me and would not let go I cried for the first time since my dad had passed. It was as if that hug was the good-bye hug that I was not able to give or receive from my dad.

    A couple of years later I became the head baseball coach at Joel Barlow. One of the first congratulatory calls I received came from Coach Mac. This amazing man always knew what to say and what to do in every situation. A larger than life figure, his legacy and his teachings will live through all of us who were blessed to get to know him. RIP Coach. We will miss you, but will never forget you.

  53. Jeff, that’s a great story. Thank you for sharing.

  54. Jim Santomassimo says:

    Gerry MacDougall was what Ct football stands for. He was also a great coach & friend. There will never be another Gerry MacDougall!

  55. Bailey says:

    All I remember of the guy is a man who was more concerned with winning than giving a kid a chance. I attempted to play for his football team, went to all his 5:30 am workouts (seemed to impress Coach Herbst) and made a significant effort. I was fast and could catch but on the practice field I could get no help from him to learn the plays. When his post practice weight room sessions went long he personally chastised me for leaving to go to my job rather than extend my time in the weight room. I was given the choice of the team or the job, and in the end I picked the job. I was never part of his little core “clique” so apparently I wasn’t worth the effort to him.
    Great guy? Mentor of young men? I sure don’t see it…..

  56. Kevin J. Callahan says:

    COACH MAC, I will always remember how he stayed in touch and mentored the young coaches in the league. In 1999 my first year at Ridgefield our 3rd game was against Trumbull it was Coach Mac’s first year in retirement from football. With 43 seconds left in the game we were going for 2 to win, unfortunately for us we fumbled the exchange and lost by a point. A couple days later i get a short note from Coach Mac saying great job the other night to bad the ground hog that poked his head out when you snapped the ball was a Trumbull fan at MacDougal field, keep up the good work. For me as a coach to be acknoledged by Coach Mac meant alot to me. We miss you Coach but RIP you did a great job while you were with us now it is time to watch us and witness all the lessons you taught us. THANKS COACH MAC

  57. Gene says:

    P.R.I.D.E

  58. DC Rider says:

    Bailey – Sounds like you sucked.

  59. Mattie says:

    This is to Bailey… I’m not going to say anything here to put you down, but I will say that Coach could see in all of his “Kids” a potential, or lack there of… If you didn’t have the heart, or the will to excel in what you wanted to do, Coach could see that. If you were not willing to change your attitude, Coach could see that… See the thing is, it’s a two way street, he would give YOU all he could to help you become something great, but if you were not willing to give to yourself what he was giving to you, it would not work. And thus you are who you are today. What you chose to take away from your time with Coach seems to be resentment and negativity. That’s not his fault. So please, try and understand, you are responisible for you and what you are, it’s not his fault, so don’t blaim him…

  60. One of life’s great truths is that nobody’s perfect and you can’t please everyone. While there has been an overwhelming outpouring of love and affection, there is a (very) small minority who did not share those views. Coach McDougall was a heavy-handed guy in his prime and I’m sure there were a few who didn’t take it well. While I do not believe this is the best time or place to air grievances, I do not believe people’s voices should be silenced (although, I’d prefer they were not anonymous). That said, I also don’t want this space to become a war of words. My advice is to just leave it alone and not waste space with rebuttals.

    To give you an idea of what I speak, here is a letter I received yesterday from a man who, as a teenager, had a run-in with McDougall during his early years in Trumbull.

    He felt compelled to write this to Jerry’s daughter, Lauren, and shared it with me.

    Dear Lauren,
    I was very saddened to hear yesterday of your dad’s passing. Please accept our condolences.

    Coach and I had a run in back in 10th or 11th grade that changed my life.

    One can be very defiant as a 16 or 17 years old and I was the poster child. Whatever I was told to do I did the opposite. I was in the Bridgeport P.A.L. Drum & Bugle Corp. and was hanging around with some pretty “rough” kids and I was kind of a hippie. I carried that attitude to Trumbull HS and one day, your dad and I had a run in when I refused to dress for gym class. It wasn’t the first encounter we had and Coach McDougal didn’t take to kindly to my attitude that particular day. I think he had had enough. This was in the 60’s so long hair was becoming the fashion and of course I had to be an early follower! The school had a loosely enforced dress code that applied to long hair and mine was right on the border, so Coach sent me to the principal’s office and I was suspended. I was indignant and insisted on a meeting with the principal, Coach, me and my parents. The outcome was in my favor, but I won and lost that day both at the same time. It might have been a few hours later or maybe even at that moment that my attitude and life changed. It was so long ago I don’t remember what changed but I know my feelings toward your dad turned 180 degrees. From that point on he was a hero to me. I still have a newspaper clipping hanging in “The Magyar Bar” of him after THS won their first state football championship!

    We moved from Trumbull in 1978 and have lived in five different states and we now live in Atlanta, but no matter where we’ve lived I have always followed THS football and your father. The last time I saw him was when I was home for Christmas maybe 10 or 15 years ago at the Long Hill Barber shop on Main Street. I sat there while he was in the chair waiting my turn and when he was finished, I had to re-introduce myself and thank him for what he did for me. I think that encounter had a bigger impact on me than it did on him, but I was so happy I finally got the opportunity to tell him.

    I will say a special prayer for him today and I thank God that Coach McDougal was in my life.

    Best Regards,

    Bill Magyar
    Trumbull High School
    Class of 1970

    Pamela Eckenrode Magyar
    Central Catholic High School 1966-67
    Wilton High School

    Class of 1970

  61. Bailey says:

    Give me a break Mattie…..what I am today is quite happy and successful…no thanks to the coach. Fact of the matter was, if you weren’t part of his little group of players that were there from the start then he wanted nothing to do with you. I gave him everything he wanted and held my own with the more experienced players. He hardly qualifies as the saint you are all making him out to be.

    Oh and DC Rider…as stated above it has nothing to do with sucking or not….it had to do with being part of his “clique”.

  62. THS Fan says:

    BOO HOO BAILEY!! You sound like a cry baby – I could see why you were not cut out for the team! Good choice on quitting!

  63. Bailey says:

    HAHAHA @ THSFan. You are obviously a McDougall fan boy yourself and not intelligent enough to differentiate cry baby from simply stating ones opinion based on experience. You all have your opinion and I have mine. Let it go at that. You can canonize him if you wish…I don’t see it that way.

  64. I will not have this space used for pointless bickering. The points are taken. Now let it go.

  65. Joe Markus says:

    Bailey – Girls were not allowed on the team back then.

  66. A Golden Eagle says:

    I was neither gifted athletically, academically or socially in fact I don’t think I was entirely pleasurable at all to be around. I honestly believe almost any teacher would have happily graduated me as a Sophomore. I remember one teacher that refused to call me by my name and instead chose to call me by my student number, which, to this day I remember that number.

    Jerry neither ran from me nor lowered his expectations. He was my coach but he did not take an interest in me as an athlete. He really took an interest in me as a person. He was a driving force in making sure I grew up and lived up to the potential he saw in me and I can tell you not many others saw any potential.

    He engaged me on a number of levels and during those critical early years in high school. He intervened. He went out of his way to make sure I stayed out of trouble or at least was there to remind me that he expected better and that I could do better. He reminded me and he never gave up. He maintained a presence that commanded respect but you felt like you never ever wanted to let him down. No matter how many times we “checked” in he never made me feel like I disappointed him. He made sure I continually improved in school and that I matured. I know he sincerely cared for me as a student and more important as a person. Without his early involvement I am not sure I would have accomplished much.

    I always wanted to say thank you. I almost did. I had the pleasure of bumping into him at the Long Hill Deli. We spent hours talking about a wide range of topics. His intellect on almost any topic was amazing. His recollection of almost any student he taught or coached went back decades. He was an excellent coach, teacher and person by any measurable standards. I never said thank you that day – cause I always thought he would be around.

    Jerry – Thank you. I love you. The lessons you taught me were invaluable. Thank you.

  67. Bailey says:

    Well Sean perhaps you should censor those who lower themselves to childish name calling and insipid insults. I was simply stating an opinion which sadly infuriates those who don’t agree with it.

  68. THS Fan says:

    Bailey – truth be told I would be more sympathetic to your story had you said that you went on to play college football and drafted by the NFL and somehow Coach McDougall overlooked your obvious athletic prowess…. however you are a working schmuk like the rest of us!

    You look pretty bad posting on this blog against someone that is not here to defend themselves! Good thing there are others that are willing to stand up for the dearly departed.

  69. Michael Megura says:

    Coach McDougal taught me P.A.D.S. & other great football principles. However, far more important than that, he shaped me as a person. He instilled values such as Honesty, Integrity, Honor, Accountability & Perseverance. I attribute who I am to Coach McDougal as much as I do to my parents. This is not a negative reflection of my parents rather a statement to the positive influence he had on me well beyond the football field. His lessons were life’s lessons. He was a truly incredible man who I will always remember.
    Michael Megura, Class of 1981

  70. ray brown says:

    wow—–i can see for the simple fact,two different opinions,and both have their entitlement,but lets put a little creedence in the phrase “REST IN PEACE”.

  71. Jack J. says:

    Please respect the family at this difficult time. (Bailey.)

    Remember, many of you know Coach Jerry McDougall as a Coach, Mentor, Inspiration, a role model, and so forth.

    Jerry McDougall is also a Father, Uncle, Brother, and a Friend, who is deeply loved. Have some class and respect those that are mourning at this time. The Family is reading these posts.

  72. Mattie says:

    After all is said and done, we all have our own view… I’m glad to see the positive and negative, and I am happy that Dad had such a profound impact on lives that 30+ years later, he is remembered, even if as a negative… Thank you all for your comments…
    Mattie (AKA Matthew Jorgensen, Son(in law)of Coach Mcdougall.)

  73. Ron Framson says:

    A great article about a great man. Just too bad that you did not get into his early days – where he was brought up, etc. That would certainly make Jerry a much more interesting story – somthing someone could write a book about. I was a good friend all thru high school and we always learned from each other. Then my three sons had their learning experiences with Jerry in different sports at Trumbull High School. Jerry Mac, you will be missed by many more than anyone can ever imagine.

    Ron Framson

  74. @Ron – Yeah, I know. I really missed the boat on that.

  75. Erin O'Connor Mancino says:

    I had the honor of calling Jerry McDougall “Uncle”, not a birth uncle but, an uncle by marriage. An uncle and a friend that I cherished dearly. Of all the blessings in my life I count Uncle Jerry as one of the top. He was a strong yet compassionate leader in all the he did. He was honest and funny but most of all he was a true gentlemen. I will miss him terribly but know in my heart he is reunited with Lolly. The world was made a better place because they were in it.

  76. Erin O'Connor Mancino says:

    Please remove “Bailey’s” comment #55 as terribly innqapropriate>

  77. Jerry McDougall says:

    Bailey I’m sorry that your experience with my father was unsatisfactory in your eyes. I am also sorry you had to wait till he is dead to voice your dissatisfaction. As an athlete myself I knew the playbook was something to be studied on your own time so that when you got to practice you were prepared. I also never worked in season, the game was more important to me, I made that choice. When faced with that choice you chose what was more important to you. My father wasn’t perfect, but he was willing to humble himself and admit his mistakes (see post 25). In deference to his family I would ask that you keep negative comments to yourself in our time of grief. If you truly feel the need to continue your negative commentary don’t do it in this forum.

  78. Thank you, Jerry.

    I think everyone should honor the family’s request.

  79. Tim Tvardzik, 1998 State Championship Team and Trumbull Freshman Baseball Coach says:

    I had the honor of being named a Captain under Coach McDougall in 1999. It goes without saying that it was a tremendous honor being selected Captain by a man like him. He commanded respect from his teams. You always knew to call him “Sir” when addressing him. Not because he ever asked you to do that, but because that is what the players before me addressed him as, and the players before them did as well. He had the discipline of his team also, which unfortunately, you do not see very much these days from coaches or in school systems. He was and always will be a “class act” in the minds of anyone that has ever put on a Trumbull uniform, played against him, or knew him. He will be greatly missed and always remembered for his contributions to this town and its programs.

  80. Jim says:

    A common thread amongst “small” minded folk is, if given enough rope, they’ll always hang themselves. Case in point…..Bailey.

    You said yourself that you were unprepared at practice and were not willing to sacrifice your little high school job (scooping ice cream at Carvel was it???) to improve yourself as a Trumbull High School football player. Seems to me, Coach McDougall could see an idividual’s character from a mile away……both good and bad.

    If Bailey had been raised by parents as classy as the McDougalls, perhaps some would have rubbed off. Unfortunately in this case, we see that he wasn’t, as his hollow attempt to denigrate a man of coach McDougall’s stature surely proves.

  81. I’m sure all that played for coach Mac remember the simple Hey Hey Hey.
    When coach barked those words out load,you knew to listen for what he was going to say next. For whatever came next was something important and special. What he taught us about the game of football was great, but what I remember most is what he thought me about becoming good man. Coach was so special to all of us. I used a lot of things he taught me and is part of the reason for my success as a man a father a coach and in business. Brian Roberson said it pretty well. Coach Mac has been so instrumental to children that never met him. What he taught us we passed on to all the children in our lives. Coach Mac you will always be in our hearts and will forever be missed but never forgotten.

  82. John Scinto says:

    My name is John Scinto. I was the co-captain of the 1967 Football, and wrestling team.Playing under Coach McDougall was highlight in my life. I did not have the priveledge of playing on a winning team. But for me, my expierience with Coach McDougall was about buiding character. It was about giving 100% of yourself. It was about not giving up when the odds are totally against you.
    I would not have gone to college if I never met Coach McDougall.
    High school football is not for everyone but for me at that time in my life it was everything. I feel truly blessed to have known Jerry McDougall.

    Sincerely John Scinto Trumbull High class of 1968

  83. Ron Byrnes '80 says:

    October 31, 1980 – Trumbull vs. Wilton at home Friday night under the first season with lights, inside track to the FCIAC Championship. Pregame, teamroom just before kickoff, lights go out, “Our Father, who art in heaven…” You could hear everyone breathing. Halftime – Eagles up 14-0, Coach Mac finally comes in, not sure what to expect, here it comes, wait for it, “WAY TO GO YOU GUYS!!!” Eruption and pandemonium ensues. Final score 27-14 Win. Everyone on the team got a piece of that game ball, I still have mine.

    Ever since I got to know the man with the rough exterior, I knew I wanted to play for him. Coach is a genuine person who commanded respect because he earned it and deserved it. He instinctively knew how to pick you up when you needed it and when to take you higher so as not to take your eye off the ball.

    Here’s to the Golden Eagle who took many under his wing and taught what needed to be learned. “C’mon keep going, suck it up Byrnes, only a few more sprints to go.”

    Yes Sir Coach :o) Godspeed

    aka Ronnie Byrnes #22

  84. Lee Denny says:

    I graduated from THS in 1970. In those days, wins were hard to find. I didn’t play football for Coach McDougal, I was in wrestling and baseball, but knew him well as treasurer of the Varsity Club. I returned to Trumbull for a class reunion in September 2010. I had been gone for 40 years. Even from Wyoming I had heard about the accomplishments of Trumbull High School football and Jerry. I remember sitting in that room, thinking about who on the teaching staff I would like to see. Coach McDougal was on the top of that list. Here’s to you coach RIP>

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