SPRING HILL - Before Patrick McCoy went jogging each morning, he'd always tell his mother he'd be back.
Eris McCoy would always give the same response: "If you're later than 10 a.m., I'll look for you."
That's how it had to be. After all, her son had suffered a heart attack while jogging last year.
On Wednesday, the time came and went. No Patrick.
Eris McCoy left the home they shared in Suncoast Villas development in Spring Hill and went looking.
Then, she saw the police officers and curious onlookers.
"I said no. I knew it was him," Eris McCoy told the Times on Wednesday.
Sheriff's deputies found Patrick McCoy, a social studies teacher at Springstead High School, dead on the sidewalk on Barclay Avenue, south of Powell Road. Authorities think Patrick McCoy collapsed there after suffering another heart attack. He was 50.
"I just can't believe it," Eris McCoy said. "It's very, very hard. He will be sorely missed."
Missed, she said, by his colleagues, his friends and his students.
"I want people to remember how much he cared about his students," she said. "He always felt he couldn't do enough for them."
In 1989, the former All-American offensive lineman and linebacker at Grove City College in Pennsylvania became the first football coach in Central Bears' history. He was also an assistant coach at Hernando High School and Springstead High School under former head coach William Browning before being named the head coach in 1996.
"He was always interested in the student-athlete," said Browning, who is the football coach at Hernando. "He always did a good job at making the average kid overachieve."
In 1998, Patrick McCoy gave up coaching, just two months after he was named athletic director at Springstead. He was later named the assistant principal for athletics at East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs. His stint there was short, however. Patrick McCoy returned to Springstead as a social studies teacher.
"Pat is one of the truly best people I met in a long time as a teacher and a person," Springstead assistant principal Kenneth Bonfield said. "School will go on, but it just won't be the same."
- Duane Bourne covers law enforcement and emergency services in Hernando County and can be reached at 754-6114. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org