At Monday night’s meeting of the Freehold Borough Council Councilman Kevin Kane had a sheet with notes to introduce this year’s winner of the John G. McGackin Award though he likely did not need it.
After all, the winner was his uncle and longtime Borough resident Richard Kane. Along with teaching and coaching at Freehold Borough High School the elder Kane was also the first athletic director at both Manalapan and Colts Neck High Schools.
Councilman Kane said his uncle met and exceeded the criteria the selection committee looks at when considering the winners including a strong faith and belief in the future of Freehold Borough, being a documented inspiration to others and being a positive role model for others to follow.
Having been born and raised in the borough Kane also served as the director of the Freehold Borough Recreation Department from 1968 until 1964, running a program that Councilman Kane said was copied by many of the surrounding towns. That includes the summer recreation program which he said, “I don’t know what the numbers were, but almost every kid in town went to Summer Rec.”
During his tenure with the recreation department he also started the softball and volleyball leagues in the borough and helped start Olde Freehold day back in 1976. One of the crowning achievements of his time, he said was being one of the founders of the Freehold Soccer League.
After accepting the award Kane said starting the league with the former reverend from St. Rose of Lima and two local soccer players was a highlight for his time as well.
The league started in 1970 with 40 kids between the ages of 8 and 12 including a younger Councilman Kane. What started with four teams that played every Saturday has grown and “exploded,” to require more teams and more fields for them to play on.
As for Olde Freehold Day, Kane said that was supposed to be a one shot deal for the borough to commemorate the country’s bicentennial. “It was supposed to be a special town day filled with games, food and fun. Little did we know it would become so popular.”
Even as he accepted the award Kane was quick to give credit to other people involved. “None of this could have happened without the hard work of so many volunteers who believe in the Borough and strongly feel that they can make a difference in the lives of others,” he said. “So many people volunteer for so much in this town because they believe in the town.”
The Borough native quoted a fellow son of the borough saying, “This is my hometown, but this is your hometown and this is our hometown.”