Coach Mac a champion for kids


As we’ve seen in his short time at Florida, Jim McElwain is a high-energy guy who embraces change and has a way of putting his personal stamp on things, whether it’s upgrading facilities, creating more positions on his support staff or changing the date and the time of the spring game.

Well, he’s done it again. The latest McElwain stamp has been placed on the annual Scramble for Kids golf tournament that benefits three area charities — the Boys and Girls Clubs of Alachua County, Children’s Home Society and Girls Place. And the results were — well, like bringing a championship to a lot of kids in our community.

Thanks to the efforts of McElwain and his wife, Karen, proceeds from last weekend’s tournament more than tripled for the three charities this year, according to tournament chairperson Franklin Lentz.

“He brought a different energy. It was obvious that Coach Mac was in, that this is his event,” Lentz said. “Some of the other (UF football) coaches had their name on it, but a lot of them didn’t buy ownership of it like he has. Coach Mac kind of owned it. He was involved in the beginning.”

McElwain did not have much input in the tournament a year ago because he’d only been in town for a little bit more than a month. But one important thing he did do, Lentz said, was learn about the charities and sit down with the title sponsors to get to know them.

His influence was felt almost immediately, Lentz said.

“The fact he was here last year and sat with the big sponsors and talked to them, they stepped up because of that,” Lentz said. “It’s a huge difference when people giving money know the coach is buying in, that his stamp is on it.”

McElwain started reshaping certain aspects of the tournament in his second year. One of the first things he did is get his wife involved. Her name was added to the tournament, making it the Jim and Karen McElwain Scramble for Kids, and she served on the board of directors.

The McElwain’s made a big change in the dinner held in the Touchdown Terrace the Thursday night before the tournament.

“It was more of a nice sit down dinner with china and silverware, no more paper plates,” Lentz said. “A lot of people talked about how nice it was. They decorated with a lot of orange and blue. People could see Coach Mac’s stamp on that.”

McElwain brought his assistant coaches and spoke at the dinner. His assistants also spoke.

During the scramble tournament Saturday, McElwain got out on the golf course and spent time engaging with the golfers. He also signed autographs and posed for pictures.

“You can see why his players really respond to him,” Lentz said. “Everyone at the tournament responded to him. It was a fun event, as much fun as it’s ever been. What an energy he brings to the event.

“Coach Mac talked about the charities, kept mentioning them, and the people responded (with significant contributions). We more than tripled the contributions. It’s an impressive number, a big number. We exceeded all the goals.”

It’s Coach Mac’s tournament now. His stamp is clearly on it.

“The sponsors have already said they’re in for next year because he’s so engaged in it,” Lentz said.