Congressman Steve Womack honors legendary Arkansas track coach John McDonnell

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September 20 2021 05:00 am

WASHINGTON (KNWA/KFTA) — Congressman Steve Womack spoke on the house floor Tuesday to honor the life and legacy of the late John McDonnell, former University of Arkansas Track and Field coach, and the most successful coach in NCAA history.

McDonnell, who was laid to rest last week, led the Razorbacks to 40 national championships — 19 in indoor track and field, 11 in cross country, and 10 in outdoor track and field.

“Coach McDonnell was a native of Ireland. He came to the U.S., graduated from Southwestern Louisiana, and earned his citizenship in 1969. He devoted his life to inspiring young people to excel,” Womack said. “On the many occasions I had the chance to visit with Coach McDonnell, I always came away thankful we in America were blessed to have him.”

Watch Congressman Womack’s full speech here.

Speech transcript:

“Madam Speaker, I rise today to recognize the life of a legend in Arkansas sports—the late Razorback Track and Field Coach John McDonnell.

“‘Johnny Mac’ was laid to rest last week leaving a truly remarkable legacy. He was the most decorated coach in NCAA history, having won 40 National Championships in Indoor and Outdoor Track and Cross Country. He was the national coach of the year 30 times and is responsible for six NCAA Triple Crowns at Arkansas.

“He coached and mentored some of the world’s best athletes. Southwest Conference and Southeast Conference Champions. NCAA Champions. Olympic Champions. He, himself, was an outstanding runner, and he knew how to help his student-athletes become successful.

“Coach McDonnell was a native of Ireland. He came to the U.S., graduated from Southwestern Louisiana, and earned his citizenship in 1969. He devoted his life to inspiring young people to excel. On the many occasions I had the chance to visit with Coach McDonnell, I always came away thankful we in America were blessed to have him.

“When the starting gun fires on the track that bears his name, we will all be reminded of his legacy of good works, great coaching, and his unrelenting Razorback spirit.

“My deepest condolences to his wife of more than 50 years – Ellen – children Sean and Heather – and the rest of the McDonnell family.

“I yield back.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

 

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