Tim McMullen didn’t build the fairly-new gym at St. Cloud High School with his own hands.
But, there’s a reason his name is now on the foundation.
McMullen, known better as “Coach Mac,” coached multiple Bulldogs programs for 33 years and left indelible marks on hundreds of students and athletes who passed through the halls.
The school gym — finally — is now officially called Coach Mac Court.
Mac passed away on May 9, 2017 at the age of 60 near his gym office from an apparent heart attack. He coached at St. Cloud for 33 years. Unlike his cross country, track or tennis teams, his basketball squads never won a district title. But if hardware was passed out for the hardest working or gutsiest teams, they’d have to build an extension to the foyer to hold all the trophies — because Mac had the knack to draw those qualities out of his players.
On Monday, prior to the girls hoops game against Osceola, the school unveiled the new floor logos, culminating a process that took over two years that the school, not the district, took upon themselves.
Bulldogs Athletic Director Eric Godfrey said the school and its athletic programs worked to raise the $20,000 it’d take to put down a new gym surface.
Lady Bulldogs basketball coach Chad Ansbaugh, a player and colleague of Mac for half his life, shared some of the reasons why he was special.
“He took pride in taking undersized, less-talented athletes and molding them, we call that ‘The Bulldog Way,’ and we still preach that today,” he said. “He might yell at you, he might hug you. Most of us, Mac did both,” he said to a crowd that included former players and McMullen’s close friends who came from as far away as Indiana. “It showed that he cared, and in the end, we always knew that Coach Mac loved us.”
And then there was still a game to play. On a night that included:
A Senior Night ceremony;
The team’s first home game in the gym in over a month;
A student holiday from school;
Playing rival Osceola with Orange Belt Conference title implications;
Right after a trip to the Keys for two games, one canceled due to a leaky gym.
The pull of many emotions could’ve made the game go sideways for the Bulldogs.Instead, it went straight up, or whichever direction Ansbaugh wanted.
St. Cloud (12-7) romped out to a 22-0 lead to start the game — an effort Coach Mac would’ve been proud of — and then had to summon the guts to hold on through a Kowgirls rally for a 67-56 victory.
“To do this (Monday) was just crazy,” Ansbaugh said. “But I could just hear Mac calling me all sorts of names if we didn’t.”
All four of his seniors — Beka Benge, Erin Maloney, Kenzie Brantley and Yazmin Padilla — started in honor of Senior Night. Maloney, with nine points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals made the most of the chance. Benge hit four three-points en route to a 14-point night.
But Osceola (9-6), despite falling behind early, refused to play the foil. The Kowgirls answered with a 21-5 run that made it 27-21 late in the second half. But the Bulldogs’ steadying force, 6-2 junior center Eno Inyang, keyed an 11-4 run to close the half and pad the lead back to 38-25 at the half; her 24 points and eight rebounds led the night.
Osceola, thanks to 15 points from Vilma Iglesias, 13 from Mya Lomax and 11 from Angel Roman, made it a single-digit deficit a couple times in the second half, but that’s as close as it got.
NEXT UP: St. Cloud plays at Poinciana tonight (Tuesday) and can clinch the OBC title (the girls aren’t playing a tournament this year) next week with home wins against Celebration (Monday) and Gateway (Jan. 29). Osceola is at Liberty tonight and Olympia Thursday.
WARRIORS STILL UNDEFEATED: City of Life moved to 17-0 with an 81-65 win over Gateway on Thursday; four Warriors scored double-digits. They’ll put the undefeated mark on the line again in Orlando at The First Academy (9-4) on Thursday.