Remembering Patrick McNamara ’80

 

Patrick McNamara ’80 was a sophomore when he recorded his first reception as a wide receiver on the Trinity College football team in 1976. Three years later, he had etched himself into Bantam sports history, setting marks in virtually every receiving statistical category in the record book. He was a legendary wide receiver with a true love for the game, but more importantly, he was an incredible personality with a sincere passion for people.

Earlier this year, McNamara tragically lost his life, leaving behind his wife Nancy, his two sons, Travis and Wade, his mother Eleanor McNamara Martin, four siblings, and a family here at Trinity College that will forever celebrate the presence of his enormous spirit.

The new end zone bleachers and accompanying plaque, given by McNamara’s close friends and former Trinity teammates, are a physical commemoration of just that - a man who brought so much joy to so many people. McNamara, who spent many days as a player and as a fan near the end zone where the bleachers stand, made a second home at the football field. He now has a permanent home there.

"It was a wonderful family tradition to stand in that end zone," his wife recalled. "We spent so many nice afternoons there."

Nancy and Patrick met in 1986 and married at the Trinity chapel two years later. She said she remembers taking her children and their friends to games at Trinity and afterward, bringing them to see Patrick’s framed No. 12 jersey in the athletic center to honor the All-American’s many athletic accomplishments: 2,280 career yards receiving - 4th all-time. 141 career receptions – 5th all-time. 20 receiving touchdowns – 1st all-time. 5.9 receptions per game – 3rd all-time.

Nancy and her sons were certainly proud, but for far more than his framed jersey.

"The way he handled people - he had a truly amazing gift," she said. "He could remember the name of every person he met and a little something about them. He made everyone feel very comfortable around him."

Nancy credits Patrick’s career success to his outgoing personality; it would be easy to credit part of his athletic success to the same, as McNamara loyalists would drive to campus from his hometown, Ansonia, Conn., so they could root on their favorite football player, giving him a support system that boosted him to record after record.

"I remember sitting in the stands as a freshman (Patrick was a sophomore at the time) and seeing and hearing a group causing a ruckus ," Bill Luby, who also played wide receiver, recalled. "There were people with funny hats, waving signs, making noises with horns, bells, and whistles, all to root for Patrick – it was crazy."

Luby was referring to "McNamara’s Band," as they were dubbed, who made their presence felt even after Patrick’s senior season. The Band remained intact to support Patrick’s brothers, Tim ’84 and Terry ’89, who were yet to leave their mark on the Trinity record books. Patrick would often be found in the corner of the end zone where the newly-upgraded bleachers reside, cheering his brothers on.

"A large group of us stayed at that corner for 10 years or so after school until we started raising kids," close friend and teammate Paul Romano said. "We thought [the bleachers were] a perfect way to celebrate a big personality in Patrick and the great relationships that were built at Trinity."

"Patrick set the bar very high for us," his brother Tim said. "The three of us had a friendly competition – very friendly. We always wanted to make the other better through competition, but we were always rooting for each other."

The McNamara trio now occupies three of the top five record book spots for career receiving yards, receptions, and receptions per game; three of the top ten spots in receiving touchdowns, and in addition, they are 10th, 11th, and 14th all-time in all-purpose yards.

In a sense, their football accomplishments were less a product of sheer athletic talent, and more symbolic of the close family bond they shared. But it was an unfortunate circumstance that brought the family especially close years prior to their college days. Their father, Raymond Allen McNamara, sadly passed away, leaving his wife Eleanor, two daughters, Maura and Eileen, and his three sons. As a result, Patrick, the oldest of the children, was thrust into a father figure role at the age of ten.

Tim says his mother, a physical education instructor, signed them up for football, basketball, and baseball teams to help them cope with the loss. This is how sports became a passion of the McNamara family - to them, it was more than just a game, but an outlet where they were free to be free.

The family passion for sports runs deep to this day. Travis is a sophomore and an All-American swimmer at Princeton University, and Wade, a senior at Pomperaug High School in Connecticut, is a talented football and lacrosse player.

With this dedication, the McNamara family and their family at Trinity College will always have a special spot to watch the game. The football team will also introduce the Patrick McNamara Award in his honor at its 2010 banquet , given to the program’s top rookie offensive performer from the fall season.

"Patrick just loved Trinity and Trinity football," Head Coach Jeff Devanney said. "Bantam football will sorely miss and will always remember this great man."

The Plaque

This rooting section was made popular in the late 1970’s when a group of ardent football fans from Ansonia, Connecticut came to then-Jessee Field with horns, drums, and other unique noise-making devices to support their hometown star and future Bantam All-American, Pat McNamara, Class of 1980. The excitement and camaraderie "McNamara’s Band" brought to this corner of our field served to make this a special gathering place for football alumni, their families, and friends from that era and many that have followed.

Pat’s untimely death in the autumn of 2008 compelled teammates and dear friends of Pat to dedicate these bleachers as a way to share their memories of the good fun had here on those many fall Saturdays. The enduring friendships among these Bantam faithful are a source of great pride for them and a reflection of the deep connections made here at Trinity.