It was more than six years ago when Greg McGrew, who just months before had taken on the new task of being the first athletic director at Heritage High School, realized things weren’t right.
“I was out running and my chest started hurting a little bit,” he said. “I thought it was just indigestion and I told my wife and she said it was probably something that you were eating. So I let it go and let it go. I could hardly run, this and that.”
On a Friday night just before Christmas, McGrew closed up the school after a basketball game.
“I’m carrying the money boxes and I come out the gym door,” he said. “Boy, it hit me. It hit me hard again. I finally make it (to his office). I get a bottle of water and I sit here 20 minutes or so and it eased. So I thought, again, maybe indigestion. But I was also thinking it was something else.”
It was. The next day while walking around his community, the same pain returned. He called and made a doctor’s appointment and the dizzying turn of events led to going for some tests that soon after showed blockage in his heart.
Three stents were quickly put in at Holmes Regional in Melbourne.
Four years went by.
“We’re at home,” McGrew said. “I’d just finished mowing in the yard. I took a shower, sat on the couch and it hit me hard, again. It’s just a real sharp pain. I mean, it felt like somebody is in there with a knife. I knew what it was then. I went and got my aspirin, took it and told (his wife) Linda, ‘You have to take me to the hospital.’ “
This time, he went to Cape Canaveral. Two more stints.
Heritage was McGrew’s labor of love. Despite having a total of five stints, the second surgery the result of what doctors have told him was a heart attack, he’s still hard at work. Back in his office on this day, coaches walking in with problems, the phone ringing off and on, McGrew calmly goes about his days and despite a family with a history of heart problems he’s still devoted to building an athletic program that has been surprisingly good in its infant years.
He’s also had a hip replacement surgery. But McGrew looks around his office, smiles and says he feels really good about what he’s done here. Dedicated? Are you kidding me?
McGrew is turning the corner now on what has been a remarkable career as a coach and administrator. He was hired to be the first AD before the first bricks were even put up. In fact, he used to drive over and watch construction and jokes he sometimes got in the way when workers were hard at work to try to make sure everything was just right.
McGrew has joined the drop program, in which your career is put on a five-year window. He already knows his last day at Heritage is Dec. 19, 2019.
“I love what I’m doing. I don’t know what I will do when I retire. I don’t know,” he said.
Six years ago, Heritage fielded a football team of 9th and 10th graders. From there, growth has been swift in the entire program.
“If you come down the road when it’s dark and look down this way, when it’s lit up, it looks like a kingdom over here,” McGrew said of his drive down the recently completed Heritage Parkway. “I always look at it every morning and every night when I go home. Most of the time it’s dark in the mornings when I get here. I love to come in early and get things done. And a lot of times it’s dark when I leave because I’ve got games and stuff. Just looking over and seeing it, I was a part of it since the beginning is something to make you proud.”
These are the kind of people that make sports great. Celebrate Greg McGrew, Heritage. You got three-plus school years left to enjoy him, cruising along the parkway in the dark.
Contact Jones at email@example.com or follow on Twitter: @DaveJonesSports.