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Former El Paso High coach Danny McKillip dies at 76

One of El Paso’s greatest coaches in any sport, Danny McKillip, died Sunday night at his home in El Paso.

McKillip, who was a dedicated cross country and track coach for 41 years, was 76.

Manny Rodriguez, who ran for McKillip at El Paso High from 1980 to 1984, said many of McKillip’s former runners got to see the legendary coach before his passing.

McKillip led El Paso High School to five state titles in cross country. As a distance runner at UTEP, he helped the Miners win the NCAA cross country title in 1969.

“He was the reason I got into coaching,” said Rodriguez, who coaches cross country and boys soccer at Austin High School. “He was a great person. He touched a lot of lives. He was all about helping people and trying to improve himself.”

McKillip attended Hialeah High School in Hialeah, Florida, where he was a standout athlete on the same campus as former NFL star Ted Hendricks and former Major League Baseball pitcher Charlie Hough. He signed with the University of Miami out of high school, but the university later suspended all sports except football.

In the spring of 1967, schools began recruiting McKillip again. UTEP track and cross country coach Wayne Vandenberg and men’s basketball coach Don Haskins called McKillip’s mother, Lou. There was no doubt he would be a miner.

“The coaches called my mom and she told me I was going to Texas. I asked her where. She didn’t know when I asked her, she found out later when she talked to the coaches again. She liked the coaches. She wanted me to stay at UTEP,” McKillip said in a 2011 El Paso Times article.

As he prepared to enter the workforce, he began teaching practice at El Paso High in 1970. At the time, McKillip had no aspirations to coach and had plans to return to Florida. But longtime coach CD Jarvis stepped in and everything changed.

As he prepared to enter the workforce, he began teaching practice at El Paso High in 1970. At the time, McKillip had no aspirations to coach and had plans to return to Florida. But longtime coach CD Jarvis stepped in and everything changed.

McKillip became a successful local coach and also earned a place in the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame.

“It was a huge loss,” said Truman Wills, a friend and retired cross country and track coach. “He changed the world. He loved coaching, he loved working with his teams and he loved helping anyone he could. He had a great passion for life and taught a lot of life lessons. If my team wasn’t winning when I was coaching, I wanted Danny to win and he felt the same way about me.”

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Just two weeks ago, the EPISD Board of Trustees approved naming the El Paso High School track after McKillip, an honor that will keep his memory alive.

“Coach McKillip was someone special to our community and our city,” said EPHS cross country coach Nathan Casillas.

Casillas worked with McKillip for many years before taking over as head of cross country.

“I learned a lot from him,” Casillas said. “We got along well and thanks to him I became a better coach and a better person.”

Felix F. Chavez can be reached at [email protected]; @Fchavezeptimes on X