By Andrew Jones, Star-News Correspondent
Planned days off and vacations offer some relief, but tranquility isn't often possible during the grueling stretch of games, recruiting and spring practice.
Yet, each day, 60-year-old Chuck Amato carves out a few moments for peace and solitude. Not with a movie or book, a glass of wine in the evening or cup of coffee in the morning.
Every morning just before 7 a.m., the N.C. State football coach turns his car onto Edwards Mill Road in Raleigh, makes a simple left turn just past Trinity Road, drives up a short hill and parks near the chapel at Cardinal Gibbons High School. He gets out, walks through a side door and settles into the same seat to attend mass.
This is a side of Chuck Amato few know.
Despite a caricature image of red shoes, sunglasses and well-toned pectoral muscles, Amato is a man of substance unseen by fans. A man who holds a degree in mathematics and a master's in education, both from N.C. State. A man who visits a friend in the hospital daily in hopes of sparking optimistic thoughts. A man with a tough-guy image who tears up when he hears the notes of Ave Maria.
An embattled seventh-year coach who - no matter the struggles and criticisms that often hover over him - clears time daily for devotion to his Catholic faith.
"It's well worth it for me and helps me with my faith and helps me come in here with a smile on my face and helps me come in here with energy," Amato said recently from his fourth-floor office at the Murphy Football Center, decked out in a white Wolfpack sweatsuit.
Amato attends Sunday services at Cardinal Gibbons as well, sitting in the same pew.
It's hard to hide in the Triangle when you're Amato, so when it comes to faith, he doesn't try.
"For us, it's been really amazing," said Father Richard Doherty, a teacher at Gibbons who presides over mass each morning. "It's something the kids, first of all, get a big charge out of. And second of all, 'Oh, he takes this really seriously.' And that's caused them to do a lot more thinking."
It helps Amato sort through his thoughts, providing a cleansing before facing the day.
"It helps me to come in here and attack what has to be attacked," he said.
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Special thanks to Andrew Jones and the Wilmington Star News for allowing us to post this story to GoPack.com. You can contact Andrew at: email@example.com