Oneonta’s sports community is rallying behind one of its most visible members in the wake of a shocking disclosure.
Jerry Mackey, veteran coach of boys basketball and girls soccer, has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He divulged his condition to basketball team members during a team dinner Wednesday night, according to athletic director Joe Hughes.
“When you hear multiple sclerosis it’s like a punch in the gut, it takes your breath away,” Hughes said of the community’s reaction, “but you stagger then you stand firm — just like he’s going to do.
“It’s a punch in the belly, that’s what it felt like. But we’ll be there to fight with him.”
Junior varsity coach Brad Zeh will coach the Yellowjackets in the Section 4 Class B championship game against Norwich, scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. Zeh was in charge during a semifinal win over Susquehanna Valley.
Mackey, a 1989 graduate of Whitney Point High, succeeded Bob Zeh as varsity basketball coach in 1998 at age 27. He has guided the ‘Jackets to multiple Section 4 basketball championships, and last fall coached the soccer team to the program’s first state championship.
“Hopefully he’ll be able to resume teaching and coaching, but that’s secondary right now,” Hughes said.