The prestigious group of men to serve as captains for the Saint Ignatius football team has expanded by one member.
The fourth captain of the Wildcats for the 2019 season will be Michael McNamara.
Chosen by his coaches, McNamara joins Griffin Hanna, Jack Welcsh, and Nick Schwitzgebel as the leaders of the team this season.
A lifelong Wildcat, McNamara is proud to be a captain.
"Growing up as a Saint Ignatius football fan, you see the players and you look up to them," he said. "You see the captains especially. I looked up to them as role models. Now, me being a captain is crazy to think about. It's surreal."
McNamara will be a key member of the Football Cats this season. McNamara will play a critical role at linebacker, back as a leader after starting much of last season. The Clevelander will also see some time as a running back, particularly in red zone situations where the "Mac Attack" is needed to pound the ball into the end zone.
The responsibility that comes with the role is not lost on McNamara.
"For the young players, particularly the juniors who don't have too much experience, I can help with my experience," McNamara said. "Gameplay situations are a lot different than practice, with a big crowd and everyone yelling. It can be intense. I like to stay relaxed. If I know what I'm doing and I'm confident in what I'm doing, I can help the other guys to be confident."
McNamara's confidence has always been a part of his character. His leadership skills last season on the field and this year in the offseason were not lost on the coaches.
"The important thing is that he was a leader before he was named captain. That's why the coaches selected him," said Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach Ryan Franzinger '02. "Captain is just a title. He's an extension of the coaching staff, and a player-coach liaison. We recognize that his teammates respect him and look up to him as a person and as a player, and both of those things are highly important. He has high expectations."
Head Coach Chuck Kyle '69 has also been impressed with how McNamara has conducted himself during camp this August.
"People know he's a very good athlete, being a multi-sport athlete. I appreciate it that he believes in playing multiple sports and that high school is the time to experience various programs and challenges. You can tell he enjoys it, everybody realizes that he loves a challenge. He's always been very enthusiastic about football," Kyle said. "You mostly see him on defense, but he can also play offense and special teams. He's gung ho about whatever needs to be done, and you love to see that in a leader."
As Kyle alluded to, McNamara has excelled not only in football, but in baseball as well.
This past spring, McNamara played a starring role in the Wildcats' state championship run. McNamara started as shortstop all season, bringing middle-of-the-order power with a strong defense. He also provided a steadying force on the bench, always exuding confidence.
McNamara's multi-sport experience certainly makes him a better athlete and a leader.
"He's a multi-sport athlete – three of our four captains are multi-sport athletes, and Nick did shot put as a sophomore. That's something we're proud of – all of those guys are successful in more than one sport," Franzinger said. "It gives you a greater reach. Mac is a highly respected baseball player, and football player. We're very pleased about that."
Playing multiple sports encourages a better work ethic and time management, two skills McNamara has mastered. He also knows how to make his teammates smile.
"He's well-respected by his teammates. People enjoy working with him – he's hard-working, but he's also fun. That's a good combination," Kyle said. "There's a lot of intensity when you play football, but the camaraderie is important, it takes your team to another level. That's what we're seeing here. We have a good set of captains. You look at their work ethic, the respect they receive and give. It's a good situation."
Indeed, the Wildcats have a great leadership situation heading into the season. Hanna, Welcsh, Schwitzgebel, and now McNamara are all great young men who will be wonderful leaders.
The Wildcats also have other seniors who will play leadership roles this season.
"Nick, Welcsh, and Griff are great leaders. We also have other seniors such as Cmiel and Sam who are great leaders," McNamara said. "They could have been captain as well. The seniors will do a great job."
The Wildcats will head south to Canton on Thursday for the team's annual Jamboree game vs. Canton McKinley at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. The SIBN will have the call for the 7 pm scrimmage.