Hundreds of friends and well-wishers descended on the Elks Lodge in Saco on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. They were all there to support former football coach Mike Landry. It made two years since the legendary coach started his battle with melanoma and he told everyone at the gathering how he felt the end was near.

He spoke frankly about his condition and how it had deteriorated in recent weeks. Those who were in attendance and who hadn’t seen him in a while were taken aback by how frail he’d become and how weak he seemed.

But those folks were not at Landry’s “living wake” to gawk or to gossip. They were there because Coach Landry meant so much to them. They wanted him to know how much they cared and he put them at ease by telling them how he’d become more spiritual and he was prepared for what God had in store for him.

And when he was coaching, his teams were always prepared as well. He emphasized that he needed to live as he’d preached and that he’d fight till the end.

Under his 17-year reign (1977-93) at the helm of Biddeford High football, Coach Landry directed the Tigers to 135 wins against just 38 losses. They went to the Class A state championship game six times and they came away with the title on each and every occasion.

He returned to the sidelines in 2003 when he became the head coach at Westbrook for two seasons.

All of the men and women who showed up to say hello and to wish Landry well on that November Sunday were not there because Landry helped fill the Biddeford trophy case with six Gold Balls. He was about so much more than wins and losses. He cared. He cared deeply about his family and friends and he especially cared about those players – his kids – who battled on the gridiron under his leadership.

He taught his players about hard work and responsibility; he preached about determination and staying positive; he emphasized self-discipline and how making good decisions would achieve positive outcomes; and he told them that they could achieve almost anything if they did their very best when they were asked to do so.

Coach Landry devised his most recent game plan a couple of years ago when he first discovered he had cancer. He attacked the disease as best he could and he never gave up. He attempted many non-conventional courses of treatment and he searched for ways to beat the melanoma in much the same manner he searched for ways to defeat oppsoing football teams.

In September of 2005, Coach Landry was honored in a pre-game ceremony at Waterhouse Field by having the locker room there named after him. It was very appropriate that the room where so many Biddeford teams and Biddeford players vowed to do the best they could be named after the man who brought out the best in all the young men he coached.

The plaque that signifies this honor has these words written on it:

If there were ever a time to dare,

To make a difference,

To embark on something worth doing,

It is now.

Not for any grand cause necessarily,

But for something that tugs at your heart.

Something that’s your aspiration,

Something that’s your dream.

Know though, that things worth doing,

Seldom come easy.

There will be good days,

There will be times when you want to turn around,

Pack it up and call it quits.

Those times tell you that you are pushing yourself,

That you are not afraid to learn by trying.

Anything is possible – dream big.

Coach Landry touched the lives of so many people in the communities where he worked and coached. He was special when he walked the sidelines and he proved to be more special during these last two years of his life.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.