SARASOTA, Fla. -- For the first time in 34 years, Paul Maechtle will not roam the Southeast High School sidelines as a head coach. He has retired from football and teaching, but is still teaching football as a volunteer at Cardinal Mooney.
Maechtle chose Mooney so he could watch his grandson Tommy Vassallo play his senior season. "It's nice to be able to be closer to him. 10 days with him is more time than I have been able to spend with him in the past."
"It's pretty nice. He's a good addition to the coaching staff. I feel pressure, but its good. I like pressure," says Vassallo.
So the long-time head coach not only gets to see his grandson, and pass on his football acumen, but he gets to do it without the pressure, and the decision-making, of being the top dog. "I enjoy the chance to coach football, and not worry about making sure everyone is on the roster, making sure you have adds for the program, ensuring there is someone to take tickets. Just coach football."
Cougars head coach Josh Smithers had to follow a successful head coach in Mike Dowling, and his own father Bob has been coaching on the Suncoast for years, so he is not insecure about having a legend looking over his shoulder. “He's a Hall of Famer. Anything he can do to help us, he is willing to do. Hopefully, I'll be a better football coach for working with him, as well as our assistants. We are just excited to have him around."
Coach Maechtle has not only been coaching football all these years, he's been shaping lives. Former Seminoles wide receiver Charles Chestnut, now a fitness trainer on the Suncoast, tells ABC 7: "We all know he loves football, but I believe his life's ambition is to teach boys to be respectful, moral, and disciplined men. He has always been more than a football coach to me."
Now he is doing that for a new set of players. “He's really helpful. Even though he is an offensive coach, he is always giving me tips and pointers to help out on how to tackle better and break down what to look for in the offense," says linebacker Sam Leonard.
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