FLUSHING — John J. McArdle, the new coach of the junior varsity football team at Holy Cross H.S., Flushing, has good timing.
Last fall, McArdle stepped down as president of Whitepoint Youth Football and Cheer in Flushing. After 10 years of coaching, including five at the helm, the November awards banquet was his farewell.
At the time, he didn’t know that the football program at nearby Holy Cross, his alma mater, was also in transition. Its JV coach was joining the varsity coaching staff, leaving an opening for varsity head coach Tim Smith to fill.
Smith’s son, also named Tim, graduated from Holy Cross in 2000 and played football with McArdle at the school. The younger Smith recommended McArdle for the JV coaching job. It was a case of family ties coming together with school ties.
And the family connection goes one step further, because McArdle’s dad, John Peter, was a Holy Cross parent who was active with the school. He was president of the school’s Father’s Club and started a “Doo Wop Music Night” in the spring of 1998 that caught on and is still held every year. The older McArdle said his son’s years at Holy Cross brought them closer together, and when his son coached youth football, he went to every game.
“It’s really cool to be 37 and still have my dad by my side,” the younger McArdle said.
Family and tradition are important at Holy Cross. Smith, the varsity coach, likes to hire former Holy Cross players. The varsity staff has four Holy Cross alums, and five of the seven JV coaches are Knights.
The coaches teach the players to be “Holy Cross men.” Anthony Marin, a sophomore on the JV team, described that as being respectful, vigilant and self-disciplined.
Smith, the son of the varsity coach, said, “Being a Holy Cross man is having perseverance in a situation and have good morals when other people might not.”
That is rooted in faith. Every practice and game begins and ends with a prayer, including an Our Father and Hail Mary.
The goal of JV football is to teach the players techniques and work ethic to prepare them for the varsity. Holy Cross is also looking to expand its JV program. It has 37 players this year, including 25 rookies. The new coach McArdle hadn’t played before either when he joined the Knights’ freshman team in 1996.
“They can play football now,” McArdle said. “Some are still learning and grasping their assignments. That’s cool to watch, and that’s when we know we’re doing our job.”