Holy Cross alum returns to Flushing alma mater to teach students football and life lessons

Photos courtesy of John J. McArdle

A Holy Cross High School alum and former football player is back with the Knights to coach a new generation of student athletes.

This September, the Flushing school welcomed John J. McArdle as the head junior varsity football coach. Growing up, McArdle said that he “always loved the game” and exceeded on the field, where played left guard on the offensive line through college.

Prior to returning to his alma mater, McArdle was the coach and president of the Whitepoint Youth Football League. During his tenure, he “fell in love” with coaching and teaching the kids life lessons through the sport, including discipline, respect and accountability.

“Everyone wants to win and not make mistakes. But I think we’re doing our job if we make the kids ready for the real world,” said McArdle. “I believe in them, so I need them to believe in themselves. You’re gonna make mistakes in the classroom, at home and at work but try not to make the same mistake twice.”

According to McArdle, he is a “hard coach” who “demands perfection but doesn’t expect it.” In addition to repetition and drilling exercises, he uses positive reinforcement to garner the desired results from his players.

“I don’t get on them when they do something wrong, I appreciate them when they’ve learned,” he said. “The kids are at an age where parents and teaching tell them what to do and what not to do. I talk to them as an adult and treat them as an equal. It helps them open up and feel more comfortable.”

Timothy Smith, the head varsity football coach at Holy Cross, has known McArdle since he was 14 years old when he played football with his son. Smith joined Holy Cross as a junior varsity coach from 1997 to 1999. After working at other institutions in the early 2000s, he became an assistant coach in 2012 and was named head varsity coach in 2015.

“John is passionate and has the right intentions, not just about the sport but about teaching life lessons and molding young men into good citizens, good husbands and good fathers,” Smith said.

As the JV coach, Smith said that it is McArdle’s responsibility to get players ready for “the next level” on the varsity team.

“He’s done a good job assembling kids together for one common goal and upholding the reputation of the school,” Smith said.

The team practices four days a week and plays games on Saturday. Their next game is at 10 a.m. on Sept. 28, when the Knights will face off against St. Francis Preparatory School. Click here for a full game schedule.

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