Former Archbishop Ryan football coach Frank McArdle V was about 10 years old when he asked his dad, longtime Father Judge assistant coach Frank McArdle IV, about Vietnam.
At the time, T-shirts memorializing Judge alumni who were servicemen killed in the war sparked McArdle’s curiosity during a Judge-Lincoln football game.
“It was an emotional conversation for [my dad],” McArdle said, “because some of those guys were his classmates.”
A different sort of sentiment overcame the proud father on Monday when the younger McArdle was named Judge’s new football coach.
The photo the school posted on its Facebook page is of its smiling new hire in front of a No. 27 jersey, a memorial to the 27 servicemen from Judge who died in Vietnam.
“We’re just really proud,” said the elder McArdle, now 67. “I’m so excited for him. I’ve had guys I coached call and text me. Guys I’ve played with have called me.”
He paused slightly after his voice momentarily quivered.
“I’m an emotional guy,” he continued. “This is so surreal. I’m so proud of him. To see this come true is really nice. God works in strange ways, I guess.”
The younger McArdle led his alma mater, Ryan, for 10 years before recently being dismissed. The elder McArdle coached the Judge Crusaders as an assistant from 1974 to 1993.
“I grew up around that program with my dad" and head coach John “Whitey” Sullivan, the younger McArdle said. “They used to let me run all around, and I had a blast.”
His dad and uncle, Ed McArdle, went to Judge and are in the school’s hall of honor. Uncles John and Matt went to Chestnut Hill Academy and Penn Charter, respectively. Both are in their alma mater’s respective halls of fame. Several more uncles from the McArdle clan were also “Judge guys.”
Even the younger McArdle’s wife, Melissa, has family members who attended Judge.
McArdle left Ryan (8-4, 2-3 last season) with a 57-60 overall record and would have returned with several major contributors next season. Former Judge coach Mike McKay (3-8, 1-4 last season), who was coached by the elder McArdle, left after last season with a 31-38 mark from 2013 to 2018.
After the younger McArdle starred at Ryan in 2000 as a linebacker, he played linebacker, defensive end and special teams at James Madison. His father played for a season at Western Kentucky after he graduated from Judge in 1969.
During his senior year, the elder McArdle said, a Vietnam memorial was built just outside the school. By the time he graduated, he said, the names of former classmates were still being added.
“I knew three guys that lived right around the corner from me that are on that” memorial, the elder McArdle said. “It still means a lot to the Judge community. It’s a big thing.”
And to now see his son out in front, leading the Crusaders on the football field?