Instead of missing kids’ first day of school, Ship coach brings along team

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Shippensburg dad — and coach — has never been able to make his kids’ first day of school because of football practice.

That changed this year, in a big way.

On the field, they’re a family. Off the field, the Red Raiders showed this week, they might be even more of one.

Back to school on the Shippensburg University campus means a lot of different things. On the practice field, it means back to work.

“We have long hours and we work all year long and it’s tough deal on the family,” Shippensburg football coach Mark Maciejewski said. “My wife is a hero in my eyes.”

Maciejewski (Coach Mac to his players) didn’t want to miss his kids starting yet another year at Grace B. Luhrs Elementary School.

His oldest, Brady, is starting 3rd grade this year, and his youngest, Levi, is just starting kindergarten.

“An old coach told me, he said, ‘You know, the one thing you can never get back is your kids growing up,’” Maciejewski said.

He told his players Tuesday. “I told them that, you know, I had to leave the meeting a little bit early to go see Brady and Levi’s first day of school.”

“So we all decided, we were like, ‘Hey, how about we just go with you?’” junior cornerback Kevin Taylor said.

“It was all their idea to come along,” Maciejewski said.

“Family is the number one and the most important thing of all,” Chavez Cheatham, another junior cornerback, said.

Wednesday, the first day of school, all students at the elementary school had a welcoming team.

“Gave a couple kids high-fives, you know,” Cheatham said, “let them know, have a great first day of school.”

“A little tunnel for them to go through like we have over there when we come out of the tunnel,” Taylor said.

“It’s a combination being a proud dad and proud coach,” Maciejewski said. His lessons about what really matters might have sunk in more than the playbook.

“Just the little things can really change or can really affect someone’s day, life,” Taylor said.

“My family is part of this family,” Maciejewski said, “and the Red Raider family is part of my family.”

The team’s first home game is coming Sept. 10.

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