Mike McMahon, whose name was synonymous with the words “athletics” and “success” at Omaha Skutt, has died.
McMahon, the former athletic director at the high school, passed away at his home Thursday night from lung cancer. He was 62.
The SkyHawks’ growth as a Class B sports power came with McMahon on the job. He spent almost 17 years at the school — the last 13 as athletic director — before announcing his retirement last spring for health reasons.
During McMahon’s tenure, Skutt won 36 state championships and was state runner-up 18 times. The 2013-14 World-Herald Class B All-Sports Championship was the school’s eighth in his 13 years.
When the award was presented at the school, SkyHawks football coach Matt Turman said at the time the All-Sports Award was a fitting retirement gift for McMahon.
“The success he’s brought to our school, it was important to the coaches and the community that we send him out on top,” Turman said.
Jeremy Moore, McMahon’s former assistant who took over as athletic director, said Friday was a sad day for the Skutt community.
“Mike had a saying on the wall of his office that I kept up there,” Moore said. “It says, ‘How do you want to be remembered?’ Mike lived his whole life that way.”
Moore added that McMahon was an important role model.
“It was never about him,” Moore said. “It was always about the kids. He wanted to make sure that everyone got treated special when they walked through our doors.”
After announcing his retirement following the lung cancer diagnosis, friends threw him a surprise retirement party at the school’s auditorium. He received a standing ovation, as well as hugs and handshakes from people offering support for his cancer battle.
McMahon also was awarded a special state of Nebraska trophy that listed all of the championships Skutt had won while he was activities director.
McMahon, who grew up in West Point, Nebraska, arrived at Skutt as girls basketball coach in the 1998-99 season from North Platte. He had been an assistant coach in boys basketball, softball and football at that school for 13 years.
He previously had coached for four years at Battle Creek before moving to North Platte, guiding the American Legion baseball programs in both communities.
While serving as the SkyHawks’ athletic director, he was a fixture at almost every sporting event that involved Skutt — whether that event was played at home or on the road.
“That’s just the way Mike was,” Moore said. “He wanted to be there if our coaches or athletes needed anything.”
Moore added that during McMahon’s athletic director days, he often read the announcements over the intercom. At the end, he would always add “Go SkyHawks!”
One of the last events that McMahon attended at the school was the Oct. 17 football game between Skutt and Elkhorn South. The student section wore the same colored shirts for cancer awareness and held up a sign in support of the former athletic director.
“Mike was a great A.D. but an even better man,” Moore said. “He left his mark, that’s for sure.”
Visitation is 4 p.m. Sunday with a wake service at 6 p.m. at the John A. Gentleman Bellevue Chapel, 3402 Samson Way. The funeral is 10:30 a.m. Monday at St. Matthew Catholic Church, 12210 S. 36th St. in Bellevue.
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