Farewell To Another Greatest-Generation American

February 9, 2016

The day after one of the most memorable Beanpot Tournaments ever, hundreds of  members of the ice hockey family journeyed to Cape Cod to pay final respects to Jack Riley.  Jack passed away at the age of 95 after one of the most memorable careers in the sport of hockey.

Riley 8a

Jack’s plaque from the United States Military Academy’s Hall of Fame enumerates his many coaching achievements and honors.

Riley 6a

Naval aviator, graduate of flight school in Jacksonville. Florida, May 1943

He graduated from Medford High in 1936, prepped for a few years, and enrolled at Dartmouth College. He starred in hockey under Eddie Jeremiah for two seasons, then left to serve as a Navy pilot in World War II.

 

Riley 4a

He returned to Dartmouth and finished out his college playing days, captaining the 1947 teams that was considered the best in the country.

Riley 9a

In 1960, Walter Brown selected Jack to coach of the United States Olympic Team for the games at Squaw Valley, California. They pulled off the real “Miracle on Ice” with victories over Canada, Russia, and Czechoslovakia.

A long and full life, blessed with six children and nine grandchildren…Jack Riley was not only one of America’s finest hockey men. He was one of our Greatest Generation’s bona fide heroes.

 

 

Sports Shorts

January 25, 2016

BRadyManning“Disa and data” as one old-time Boston sportswriter used to label his note columns. I forget who that was. There was also “Here and There” and “Hither and Yon” subheads for this sort of fare. Anybody remember them – and were they in the Record, the American, the Herald, the Traveler, the Morning Globe, or the Evening Globe?

Rivalries
Excellent Bob Ryan column in the January 24 Sunday Globe about the Tom Brady-Peyton Manning “rivalry.” Bob has seen it all during his sportswriting career. He is spot-on when he says that this Tom-Peyton thing just ain’t the same as long-running, head-to-head competitions like Russell-Chamberlain, Bird-Johnson, and Evert-Navratilova.

As Bob points out, Tom and Peyton chart parallel courses. They don’t play defense. Ryan calls this a “manufactured” rivalry, and to a great extent it is. It’s largely, though not entirely, a creation of the television producers.

Not long ago, a producer told me that one of his primary tasks in planning the broadcasts was figuring out the “story lines” they’d follow during the game. There are usually two or three that TV tries to play up so as to add a little extra drama to the coverage.

Examples of these hoped-for story lines might be a recently-traded player returned to town to confront his former teammates; coaches who clearly don’t like each other glaring into the cameras; the best offense runs up against the best defense; a player’s comeback from a debilitating injury, etc.

In the case of Tom and Peyton, the TV people hardly even had to work at it. They just put up all those graphics with the statistical comparisons. The only things that were more numerous on the AFC Championship show were the cell phone service ads.

Sometimes the contest evolves the way they want; sometimes it doesn’t. This time it didn’t. It wasn’t a quarterback shootout. The real story was the way the Denver defense overwhelmed the Patriots’ offensive line. Another unexpected twist was having one of the best kickers of all time blow an extra-point try.

But back to the “rivalry.” As football goes, and as Ryan also states, this is as good as it gets. Tom and Peyton are two of the best ever. They are in the twilight of their careers, and they won’t ever again get a chance to perform on the same stage with so much at stake.

And we in Boston have been lucky to have ringside seats for this and for the Larry-Magic and Russell-Chamberlain.

So our guy and our team didn’t come out on top this time. That’s okay. This is Peyton’s last shot. I hope he wins the Super Bowl. And the sun will come up tomorrow.

Coaches

It’s almost time for the Beanpot. Will we finally see a Harvard-Northeastern championship game? This could be the year.

The college hockey world has been justifiably lavish in its praise of Boston College coach Jerry York. Jerry has another very good team this year, and he just earned his 1,000th career victory.

But on a shorter horizon, let’s not overlook the fantastic job that Jim Madigan is doing at Northeastern this season. The Huskies lost three of their best players – Kevin Roy, Dalen Hedges, and Dustin Darou – during the first half. At one point, the record was 1-11-2. It was enough to make any team lose heart and to start mailing it in.

But “Mad Dog” somehow held it all together. He dipped into his reserves, shuffled his lines about constantly, and kept the team working hard. Since losing 4-3 to BC before Christmas, the Huntington Hounds have won seven games and tied one – as of this writing. Roy and Darou are back in the lineup.

Northeastern was in the Beanpot final last year against BU and lost in overtime. The two of them play in the second game of the opening round this year. The Terriers, Eagles, and Harvard are all having good seasons. The Huskies are the only one of the four teams that will enter the 2016 tournament with an overall losing record.

But it’s long past time (since 1988) for Northeastern to win another Beanpot title. If ever there was a dark horse, it’s this year’s Huskies.

A Keeper from the Annals of Sports Writing

January 22, 2016

CricketAthletes can be the most interesting of people. That’s why I like writing about them. There’s almost always a good story behind the development of their talent, their victories and defeats, and “what it all means” to them. There are very few athletes and coaches who are thoroughly bad apples. I tend to write with sympathy and empathy about most sports personalities – or at least I try to.

That said, I value “objectivity” in the coverage of teams and the description of contests. Excessive shilling and one-sided, polemical writing are repulsive; and Lord knows, we have enough of that in the coverage of politics and business.

I simply must share with you the following passage cited by American journalist Edwin Newman in his book “Strictly Speaking.” It is by an Australian sports writer who traveled to the UK with his nation’s cricket team back in the sixties or thereabouts.

The writer took umbrage at the British sportswriters’ personal attacks on the lads he was covering, even as he properly critiqued the team’s play. I like this guy’s attitude. Keep this in mind the next time an investigative sports journalist trumpets a scoop about some Patriot’s peccadillo or Bruin’s blunder.

“As an old cricketer, I am a bit of a fogey when it comes to the privacy of dressing rooms, which belong exclusively to the players, and I purposely have not stayed in the same hotels as the Australians. If players on a tour as long as this want to let their hair down occasionally, they are entitled to do so in privacy and it would be more than odd if fit-to-busting young athletes did not want to go on the rampage occasionally with a few drinks and songs.

“Cricketers of any country are no parlour saints. The Australians did not emerge with flying colours from Scotland and Northampton. They were careless in their approach to both games and at Northampton apparently offended the shop steward of the waitresses by helping themselves to cheese and biscuits.

“Manager Ray Steel, a splendid manager with discipline but no stuffiness, dressed them down in no uncertain terms over their playing approach. He did not mention the cheese and biscuits.

“My hackles rise when I think they are criticized unfairly and it often strikes me as odd how the bare one or two, who were possibly no plaster saints on the field themselves, are so eager to dip their pens in vitriol against the Australians. You would think we are not of the same stick.

“Once again, I say I am proud of these young Australians, even if they do not ask for the biscuits and cheese to be passed. “

It is what it is, and that’s telling it like it is. Good on ya, Mate.

Holy Days, and Holy Lands – and Who We Really Are

January 17, 2016

No Feast of Circumcision to Start the Year

A couple of weeks ago, on January 1, there was some lighthearted banter of social media about Catholics’ relatively new name for that day: The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Those of my generation remember January 1 as The Feast of the Circumcision, a holy day of obligation that came just a week after Christmas.

Several people remarked on line that that it was no longer embarrassing or awkward to talk about what the day was all about. I guess if you feel better talking about motherhood than about minor surgery to a penis, that’s fine. And Mary does deserve all the devotion we can give her. A “solemnity” is top-shelf stuff, and Mary’s is actually the oldest of her feasts celebrated in the Catholic Church. It used to be on October 11. I think it still should be.

Pope Paul VI – good ol’ progressive Paul – removed the Feast of the Circumcision from the liturgical calendar back in 1974 and replaced it with the Solemnity of Mary. When he did so, he erased yet another reminder of who Jesus was, and of who we Catholics actually are. And that’s sad. We should still have a Feast of the Circumcision.

The circumcision of Jesus was in keeping with one of the most ancient practices of Judaism, in both Genesis (17: 714) and Leviticus (12:3):

“And God said unto Abraham: ‘And as for thee, thou shalt keep My covenant, thou, and thy seed after thee throughout their generations. This is My covenant … every male among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of a covenant betwixt Me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations … And the uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that should shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken My covenant.”

They used to tell us, in Catholic grade school, something like “a small piece of Jesus’ skin was cut to show that he was clean and his heart pure before God.” I guess we they figured we couldn’t handle the truth. The rite of circumcision, the brit milah, actually marked a joyous occasion – rather as a christening does now – in which Jesus entered into the covenant of Abraham and the Jewish community.

Catholics – no, make that all Christians – who follow Jesus are followers of a Jewish preacher. Jesus wasn’t Irish Catholic. Or Italian Catholic. He was a Jew. We should get used to that and celebrate it, not forget it.

As an article in the January-February Smithsonian magazine about a recent archaeological discovery states:

“Before such discoveries, a long line of (mostly Christian) theologians had sought to reinterpret the New Testament in a way that stripped Jesus of his Judaism…Archaeology showed that once and for all that the people and places closest to Jesus were deeply Jewish…The discoveries solidified the portrait of Jesus as a Jew preaching to other Jews. He was not out to convert the gentiles; the movement he launched would take that turn after his death, as it became clear that most Jews didn’t accept him as the messiah…Instead, his life drew on – or at least repurposed – bedrock Jewish traditions of prophecy, messianism, and social justice critique as old as the Hebrew Bible.”

Mary Magdalen’s Home Town: The Real Launch Pad for Jesus’ Career?

The discovery written up in Smithsonian was a synagogue and related sacred artifacts uncovered in the town of Migdal in Galilee. The find came in 2009, the same summer that my son Matthew and I toured the Holy Land. I remember driving past a road sign for Migdal. Wish we’d stopped there.

Titian's painting of Mary Magdalen witnessing the resurrection of Jesus.

Titian’s painting of Mary Magdalen witnessing the resurrection of Jesus.

Migdal is the birthplace of “Mary of Migdal,” better known to us as Mary Magdalen. Mary M. – full disclosure here – is my favorite woman of the Bible. She was one of Jesus’ most devoted followers. As a woman with a title, she was undoubtedly wealthy. She probably supported Jesus financially. The gospels tell us that she was the first one to whom he spoke after he rose from the dead. She stuck around after everybody else had fled from the scene of the crucifixion. She should have been one of the apostles, if not their leader.

Tradition and legend also say that Mary Magdalen was a redhead. Heh, heh. Jesus had good taste in women as well. No doubt of his human nature – he was a real man. But I digress.

The Migdal discovery has been called “the Israeli Pompeii.” Also called Magdala, it was a center of resistance to Rome during the Jewish revolt in A.D. 90. The Romans leveled the place and buried it, and its secrets have been hidden for two millennia.

Work here, and at other Galilee sites like Bethsaida, is ongoing and may very well change and clarify the whole story of Jesus. Up until now, we’ve thought that Jerusalem was the center of the Jewish spiritual world and that Galilee was the home of fishermen, shepherds, and assorted rural rubes. Well, maybe not.

That they had a well-appointed synagogue in Migdal could have changed the whole power structure in the Israel of Jesus’ times. Migdal was centrally located, on the road from Nazareth and near the “evangelical triangle” of Chorazin, Capernaum – which calls itself “the town of Jesus” – and Bethsaida. Jesus did much of his preaching in that triangle. There’s no way that he could not have been a frequent visitor to Migdal. He must have met Mary Magdalen there. He most likely preached in the recently discovered synagogue, as well as in Capernaum.

The Migdal synagogue had in it an ornately carved stone that apparently mimicked the design of the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem. Nothing like it has ever been found anywhere. Its very existence must have been anathema to Jerusalem religious authorities – the Beltway Bandits of that epoch.

These religious potentates, high priests like Annas and Caiaphas and their pals, the Sadducees, were the Jewish portion of a power structure that was oppressive and corrupt. It was the creation of the conquering Romans and some of the locals who kept the ordinary people subdued. Those locals were puppet kings like the Herods and some collaborationist Jews. Caiaphas got his job as top temple guy only because the Romans approved.

This is the structure that was challenged, or at least weakened, by the existence of the synagogue in Migdal. This is the cruel regime that Jesus challenged.

Speaking Truth to Power

If Jesus can be labeled anything at all, he should be called a Pharisee. The Pharisees were strict, conservative Jews who wanted nothing to do with the Romans or with dilution of their laws and traditions. New Testament writers condemn them; I think that’s unfair. Jesus felt the same way the Pharisees did, most likely. Only he had the courage to speak out.

Jesus wanted to purge the rot out of the system, to “make Judaism great again.” There was certainly plenty of rot to go around.

Jesus cleansing the temple

Jesus cleansing the temple

There was the time he went in and “cleansed the temple”: “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matthew 21: 12-13).

Jesus didn’t spare the Romans his direct wrath either. “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” (Matthew 11: 21)

Bethsaida’s name means “house of the fisherman” in Aramaic. Five of the apostles – Peter, Andrew, Philip, James and John – came from there. King Herod’s son Philip, who ruled that portion of the country, had built a temple there to honor one of Rome’s pagan goddesses. That’s another recent archaeological discovery. Nowhere else in Galilee was there a pagan temple. Jesus didn’t like that. He performed several miracles in Bethsaida or nearby, probably to tick the Romans off.

Jesus had his Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem in the week before Passover. Coming to Jerusalem at that time and in that manner was like taking over Super Bowl week. Everybody who was anybody was in Jerusalem for Passover. It must have been then that the Romans decided to take him out. He was getting too popular and powerful. That was a threat to the state. Crimes against the state carried one penalty: crucifixion.

The Romans are the bad guys here, not “The Jews.” Rome had its Jewish collaborators, who did the dirty work and whose history was further edited by Christians with an agenda. But they, the Romans, gave the order. Pontius Pilate was a butcher, not a decent man whose hand was forced by the clerics.

Jesus never had a thought of establishing a new religion to supplant Judaism. He was a good, loyal Jew who wanted to fix what had gone wrong. And his teachings are for everyone.

Jesus’ preaching career may very well have begun at Migdal, where he met that wonderful redhead Mary Magdalen. But Jesus’ circumcision eight days after his birth marked his entry into the world that he would change forever.

It’s unfortunate indeed that the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus is no longer a part of Catholics’ liturgical calendar. It’s an occasion that we, his followers, should celebrate with joy and with appreciation for all that he subsequently did for us and for everyone else. That was quite a bit, don’t you think?

I’m Not Mike Carruthers, But This is Something You Should Know

December 28, 2015

It’s about actor Richard Dreyfuss. And good on him, for his work in education.

Smithsonian magazine for January-February interviews the 68-year-old Dreyfuss about his upcoming role as financial fraudster and uber-thief Bernie Madoff. Dreyfuss’s career has come a long way since his “I’ll get the cops” line in The Graduate back in 1968.

richard-dreyfuss-flagLooks like Dreyfuss is a great fit to play Madoff. They both are natives of Bayside, a section of Queens in New York City. Dreyfuss tells of his youth as a streetwise, smartass kid who grappled with the big questions of good and evil with the specters of communism, socialism, and fascism lurking in the background. His big breakthrough as an actor was a wise guy in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.

(Aside – that book was by Mordecai Richler, a Canadian who also wrote some superb stuff about professional hockey and the six-team NHL. Read his Dispatches from the Sporting Life, and you’ll agree.)

In the interview, Dreyfuss compares the amoral Madoff to Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello. The evil that Iago wrought goes beyond the merely personal to the cosmic. He wants to destroy everything in his path.

Dreyfuss also talks about his work in Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and about how his career spun out of control – literally – back in 1982 and nearly got him killed. He’d made it big, gone Hollywood, and was sleeping around and indulging heavily in recreational chemicals. One night he threw a tantrum, stormed out of a tryst, and flipped his Mercedes convertible off the road into a canyon.

Miraculously, he survived that accident and “turned his life around,” as the trite line goes. That’s why I say “Good on him.” He’s a former “red diaper baby,” a child of socialist/communist-leaning parents, and still serious about big-picture political discussions like those he heard growing up.

It’s not that all such discussions were about weighty issues. Once, when he asked his mother why she was a socialist instead of a communist, she replied “Better doughnuts.”

But that seriousness propelled him to study political philosophy at Oxford and, ultimately, to take the lead in the Dreyfuss Civics Initiative.

He also cites the important influence of his wife Svetlana, a most impressive lady whom I once had the pleasure of meeting. Svetlana is a Russian émigré and daughter of a KGB heavyweight. She let Richard know what it was like, even for those in the power elite, to live in a country where civics is non-existent.

The Smithsonian interview states that Dreyfuss believes “deeply in the brilliance of the Constitution, and that what’s really wrong with America, and the world for that matter, is that no one any longer teaches or studies the values of the Constitution.”

The article goes on to say that Dreyfuss seeks to “encourage civics education and Enlightenment values at a time when Enlightenment values – tolerance, free speech and the like – are under attack by sectarian values in the world.”

Sound familiar, boys and girls?

Let’s let Dreyfuss himself have the last word on the subject.

“You’ve got to protect the system of secular faith in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and Enlightenment values. That way you can protect all religions.”

And I’ll repeat my last word on Richard Dreyfuss: Good on him!

History I Never Knew: The Invention of Duck Tape (Yes, it’s Duck Tape, not Duct Tape!)

November 19, 2015

It was a mother’s love, helped by the open-minded outlook of the president of the United States, that led to the invention of the most useful fastening material the world has ever seen.

stoudt

Vesta Stoudt, the tape she suggested, and the president who listened.

That mother was Vesta Stoudt. That president was Franklin Roosevelt.

After World War II broke out and Vesta’s two sons went off to serve in the Navy, she – like thousands of other women – pitched in to the war effort on the home front. She went to work in the Green River Ordnance Plant in Illinois, where she inspected and packed the cartridges that launched rifle grenades.

The cartridges were packed eleven to a box, and the boxes were taped and waxed to make them waterproof and damp-proof. The box flaps were sealed with thin paper tape. A tab of tape was left loose so that it could be pulled to release the waterproof wax coating and open the box.

But the thin paper tape wasn’t strong enough. The tabs tore off when soldiers and sailors pulled on them to open the ammo boxes. They were often under enemy fire while doing this, and their lives were put at risk as they scrambled to claw the boxes open.

Vesta Stoudt came up with a solution: seal the boxes with a strong, cloth-based waterproof tape instead of the thin paper tape. She suggested it to her supervisors and got nowhere. So Vesta went right to the top. She wrote to Roosevelt:

“I have two sons out there somewhere, one in the Pacific Island the other one with the Atlantic Fleet. You have sons in the service also. We can’t let them down by giving them a box of cartridges that takes a minute or more to open, the enemy taking their lives, that could have been saved had the box been taped with a strong cloth tape that can be opened in a split second.

“I didn’t know who to write to, Mr. President, so have written you hoping for your boys, my boys, and every man that uses the rifle grenade, that this package of rifle cartridges may be taped with the correct tape.”

The letter got the attention of the right people. Because Johnson & Johnson was experienced in making surgical adhesive tapes, the War Production Board asked that company to make the tape that Stoudt had suggested.

The material was name “Duck Tape” because, as the story goes, it was 1) waterproof, like a duck and 2) it was made with cotton duck fabric. The tape soon became known as “100 Mile an Hour Tape” in the military. Because it was strong and waterproof, soldiers used it to repair just about everything.

Vesta Stoudt received a letter from President Roosevelt and earned the Chicago Tribune’s War Worker Award for her idea and her persistence.

Sometimes it’s the little things, and the little people, that make the biggest difference. Well done and thank you, Vesta Stoudt.

BC Women’s Hockey Pioneer Kelly McManus Souza: Raising Standards and Expectations Wherever She Goes

October 5, 2015

kellyIf this were a story about business, we’d say that Kelly McManus Souza is a change agent. If our subject were chemistry, then she’d be a catalyst. But this is a story about sports. Kelly McManus is an athlete. But she’s also both a catalyst and a change agent. Throughout her career, almost wherever she’s laced on a pair of skates, Kelly has transformed teams and programs, bringing them to new and higher standards of performance.

Her college hockey days began at the University of New Hampshire. She got a full scholarship to UNH, the East’s dominant women’s hockey program of the late 1990s, and was ECAC Rookie of the Year as a freshman. In her two years there, the team went 47-17-5. Kelly scored 17 goals and 37 assists for 54 points. She was on a roll.

But in the spring following her sophomore campaign, Kelly made a bold move. She left UNH and accepted a half scholarship offer from Boston College’s second-year coach Tom Babson. The Eagles wanted to build their program to national prominence. She was looking for a change and had always liked BC.

She was one of five transfers and five new recruits to arrive in the fall of 2000. But it was Kelly, more than anyone else, whose presence showed that Boston College was serious about competing at the highest level.

“I had an official visit at BC when I was in high school, but UNH was coming off a national championship at the time, and I wanted to play against the best of the best,” Kelly explains.

“Then, two years later, BC seemed committed to improving the program. I had known Coach Babson through Ben Smith and the Olympic Development program. I thought that I could be one of those players who had an impact. I had done that at Nobles, and it was nice to see that kind of development take place.”

Impact? Here’s what Babson has to say.

“You have to understand that BC Women’s Hockey was not the incredible juggernaut that it is today. We were an after-thought program with very few scholarships and no reputation to recruit upon. There were even voices at BC wondering whether women’s hockey was worth the expense.

“To have someone like Kelly McManus take a chance on us was bewildering to the stronger programs. UNH was used to winning and had made the ECAC finals 9 out of the previous 10 years. After 14 consecutive loses to UNH, we tied them in Kelly’s senior year. Then we were a program that the college hockey community began to take notice of. That season saw us also beat Cornell and Maine, both very strong programs that we hadn’t beaten in years.”

mcmanus action 2McManus, a left-hand shot, played both center and wing. Her linemates for her two BC seasons were primarily Jen Buckley, Alaina Clark, Kerri Sanders, and Thia Connolly. As Connolly puts it, “Teammate or competitor, I’ve witnessed Kelly on both ends of the spectrum. It was much more comforting to have her on your side than on the opposing bench.”

The first year McManus played, BC’s record was 6-26. She had 13 goals and nine assists for 32 points. In her senior season, she had 17-17-34, good for third in goals in the ECAC. The team’s record was 9-19-4 and it included a first-ever berth in the playoffs. Boston College women’s hockey had arrived. Kelly became BC’s first nominee for the Patty Kazmaier Award.

Even though Kelly only played two BC seasons, she set several team records. As of graduation, she held the single-season mark for goals, assist and points. For her career, she was fourth all-time in points and goals, and third in assists.

Earlier in her career, Kelly had singlehandedly elevated the athletics program at Noble and Greenough School. Nobles won the Independent School League championship in her senior year and has remained at the top of that league ever since. Kelly was a high school All-America for coach Todd Stirling at Nobles. For her high school career, she scored 137 goals and had 98 assists. She also was all-ISL in lacrosse and soccer, and she captained all three sports.

“The support I got at Nobles was critical in my development in soccer and lacrosse,” she says, citing soccer coach Beth Riley and headmaster Vic Baker in addition to Stirling.

Before Nobles, Kelly played on the boys’ team at Dedham Country Day School. Hockey had been curtailed there, and she successfully petitioned for its reinstatement. She also was a member of the nationally prominent Assabet Valley Girls Hockey Team under coach Carl Gray. Assabet’s Pee Wee team dominated New England and finished second in the national championship tournament in Minnesota.

“Coach Gray was the one who really taught me how to deal with adversity, how to play under pressure,” said Kelly.
Kelly’s very first hockey coach was her father Mike. He had insisted that Kelly and her sister Krissy stick to figure skating and forgo Dedham Youth Hockey. Bored with that scene after a few years, they badgered him until he relented – but only if he could coach them.

Kelly and her husband Mike were married in 2006 at St. Ignatius Church. After graduation, she earned a law degree at Massachusetts School of Law while Mike was playing professional hockey. They lived in Italy for the four years he played at Cortina and have two daughters – Ella, age 8 and Ava, age 5.

Both Mike and Kelly have been coaching since returning to America in 2010. She was head hockey coach at St. Mary’s Academy Bayview in Riverside, RI and head coach for the Team Elevate Elite Lacrosse Club at Brown. Mike recently returned to his alma mater to be associate head hockey coach.

Mike and Kelly met at the rink while at UNH. Both good scorers, they would compete for the best statistics. “He’s a bigger and more physical player than me,” she says. “But I’m smarter.”

BC Soccer Hall of Famer Paul Keegan: Learning Beautiful Soccer Made Him Ireland’s First MLS Player

October 5, 2015

KeeganHeadandShouldersEarly in his freshman year at Boston College, Paul Keegan scored two goals in the first half of a soccer game at Northeastern. Coach Ed Kelly was not at all pleased.

“He was shouting at me from the sidelines, and in the locker room he was telling me that I should have passed rather than scored,” said Paul.

“I’m a striker, and strikers are greedier than other players. But Ed wanted the beautiful game. That’s how he taught me. I had to look around and not be selfish. He instilled that in me, and that’s what prepared me for MLS.”

Paul was the first Irishman to play Major League Soccer in the United States. He was the Number One pick of the New England Revolution the first MLS college draft in 1996, and he stayed with the Revs for five seasons. But his path to the big time began with Kelly’s exacting tutelage.

“When I came to Boston College I was raw. I could score goals. But I didn’t have that vision yet. Ed was a great mentor and coach,” said Paul.

The oldest of five children, Paul grew up in Dublin. His father Peter was a big fan of the Liverpool club and took his sons to England for games. Times were different back then. Irish kids who played soccer, which was considered an English game, weren’t allowed to play other school sports. Paul’s Crumlin United team won the Dublin League and Youth Cup in 1991, and Paul was Player of the Year in the Under-18 category.

Paul’s scoring touch brought him to St. Patrick’s Athletic and got him into a development course under the League of Ireland, that country’s version of Major League Soccer. It amounted to an unpaid apprenticeship for aspiring pro soccer players. Paul got hurt along the way, breaking an ankle and three toes. That turned out to be a blessing. He started to consider other options, like getting a good education.

“I got to thinking, what if this happens when you’re playing professional football. You just get laid off. You have no job, no career,” he said.

When a team from Elizabethtown, New Jersey came over for a game, Paul was duly impressed – especially by the quality of their uniforms and equipment. He decided then that he’d be interested in coming to college in America, and told his coach. The coach knew Ed Kelly and made a phone call. A year later, Paul Keegan was a Boston College freshman.

“It was hard. I was the first in my family to go away. Not just away, but thousands of miles. My dad was pushing me, telling me that America was the land of dreams,” he said.

Paul’s younger brother Wayne followed him across The Pond and ended up playing for Southern Connecticut State’s Division Two NCAA champion team. Though Paul had a lot to learn about the fine points of the game, he had an immediate impact at BC. In 1992 he was Big East Rookie of the Year and a regional All-American for the 10-8 squad.

Kelly appointed Paul captain of the team when Paul was a sophomore. Kelly brushed aside Paul’s objections about being too young and told him just to lead by example. As Paul put it, “He instilled that fighting spirit in me.”

He was captain or co-captain for three seasons and, as teammate Mike Calise stated, “Paul’s impact on the field was trumped only by his impact in the locker room and on his teammates. Paul represents the best of Boston College, our soccer family, and what it means to be an Eagle.”

Sophomore season of 1993 was rewarding, in a way, but also one of the most frustrating. The team went 12-5-1, despite having no home field for games. Shea Field was rendered unplayable for games by the football tailgaters, Paul recalls. The team did practice on Shea and “picked up a lot of chicken bones,” he says. Worse yet was the politics. The committee that selected teams for the NCAA Tournament snubbed BC.

During Paul’s four seasons the Eagles compiled a record of 42-25-6. He was a regional All-America pick all four years, national All-American twice, and three times was picked for the All-Big East first team. he was chosen Eagle of the Year for 1995-96. He holds the all-time point scoring record with 31 goals and 21 assist for 83 points in 69 games. He is second all-time in goals and third all-time in assists.

Paul’s favorite college memory came right at the end of his undergraduate days. Two years before receiving his diploma, he started for the Revolution in Foxboro and scored his first MLS goal against New York. His four brothers, his sister, and his father had all come over from Ireland to see that game and to be at graduation. His mother, tragically, had died from injuries suffered when she was stuck by an automobile a few years before.

Paul picked up a master’s degree in education while playing professionally. He also spent a tremendous amount of time as the Revolution’s ambassador to the communities in and around Boston. If there was an event involving pro athletes, he’d be there – soccer camps, charitable fund raisers, kids’ birthday parties, he’d be there. He was named Boston’s Sportsman of the Year in his last MLS season.

He returned to Ireland after that, resuming his soccer career and helping to care for his father for a year before he passed away. Paul played for a variety of teams over the next decade-plus before retiring. For the past six years he has combined his athletic background and his love of community service in working for Sports Scotland.

“It’s an active skills program, a massive program, and not just for one sport,” he explains. “It lets me reach kids, a grass-roots way to get them involved in clubs and out into their community. It’s a really enjoyable job, seeing people changing and creating new opportunities for themselves.”

BC Soccer Hall of Famer Mary Guarino: All She Needed was a Little Motivation

October 5, 2015
Mary and Alison with twins Liam and Rowan and triplets Stella, Declan, nd Reese

Mary and Alison with twins Liam and Rowan and triplets Stella, Declan, nd Reese

When high school senior Mary Guarino arrived at Storrs, Connecticut from Florida on a recruiting trip, the first thing she asked was “How far are we from Boston?”

Maybe that didn’t tip off the UConn soccer coaches that Mary had her heart set on Boston College. But it should have. Two years before, she’d visited Chestnut Hill with her father John, who’d grown up in Cambridge. Mary decided then that she wanted to go to Boston College. It was up to her to make it happen.

Mary had played soccer and many other sports – football and basketball with older brother John, track cross country and tennis in school. She was a star for the Plantation, Florida Eagles Club and had made it to the U.S. Olympic Development Player Pool. Mary also played for St. Thomas Aquinas High of Fort Lauderdale, national and state soccer champs and a renowned breeding ground for athletes.

She did make that enrollment at BC happen, although her final year of high school had many an anxious moment too. After verbally committing to Eagle coach Terez Biancardi but before signing a letter of intent, Mary blew out her right knee.

She had meniscus surgery and would need a brace for at least a year. The damaged knee could have changed everything, but Biancardi and BC didn’t flinch. Mary came north. It wasn’t an easy first year. She started in three games and didn’t score her only goal of the season until the fourteenth game. Being away from home was hard, and she’d never experienced a winter before.

“I didn’t think the game was all that different in college, except for the speed. I was the fastest player in high school. When I got to BC, I found that I wasn’t as fast as I thought. I also had to get used to playing with the brace. I also thought I’d be able to walk on top of snow,” she said.

Mary blossomed in sophomore year under new coach Alison Foley. She led the team in scoring with seven goals and one assist for 15 points. Foley pushed and challenged Mary constantly, demanding that she work harder. Mary was a fearless, aggressive striker. She also had an outstanding vertical leap and scored many headers during her career. But she needed better footwork and technical finesse for maneuvering in close quarters. Just crashing into opponents to get to the ball wasn’t enough.

“I attribute my biggest development to Alison Foley. She knew how to motivate me. I was on a full ride, life was good. But she said that ‘Mary’s got more than she’s showing us.’ She told me I wasn’t good enough, and that I’d have to do more if I was going to play here.

“That did it for me. You tell me something like that and I’m going to do everything in my power to prove you wrong. I needed help on technical things and finishing around the goal. That’s where I struggled early. Alison changed that whole aspect of my game,” said Mary.

Foley thus stepped into the role that Mary’s mother Margaret had played back in Florida. “My mother never let me settle for less, and always pushed me to do more than I thought I was capable of,” she recalls.

Mary usually played as a striker, but Foley sometimes put her at outside midfielder against better teams when BC needed a one-on-one defender. But it was in scoring that Mary Guarino made her mark. She had seven goals in both sophomore and junior years and scored 18 times as a senior. Now fourth on BC Soccer’s all-time scoring list with 33 goals and 23 assists for 87 points, she was first in that category at graduation.

In Mary’s final year the Eagles went 16-7-1 and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1985. She scored a hat trick in the first round in a 4-1 win over Fairfield. Next up was a match at Harvard, who’d crushed the Eagles 4-0 during the season. The Harvard Crimson writers scoffed at the mismatch; BC had never beaten Harvard.

“We were such total underdogs. We played 99% defense and won 1-0,” she recounts of the victory that brought BC to the Sweet 16.

Mary scored the only goal of the Harvard game on a left-footed shot. She took a pass from Meghan Moore and beat defender Gina Foster, who’d been a teammate of Mary’s back in Fort Lauderdale.

The next game was a different story altogether. UConn eliminated the Eagles 5-0 and Mary, knee blown out again, was carried off the field at the 20-minute mark.

“But I’ll take that Harvard game any day,” she says.

After graduating, Mary signed a semipro deal and took a fling with the Boston Breakers. She also launched a 12-year coaching career, first as Foley’s assistant at BC. She then was assistant at Hobart William Smith and at Westchester University. She was also head coach of the West Chester United Under-16 team.

From 2005 to 2012, Mary was head coach at DeSales University in Center Valley, Pennsylvania. Her teams had a 100% graduation rate and an overall 2.9 GPA. Then it was time to come home and take care of the kids.
Mary and partner Alison McWilliams gave been together for ten years. They are the proud parents of twins Liam and Rowan, age 3, and triplets Stella, Declan, and Reese, age 5. Mary and Alison recently announced a new venture, a BeBalanced Hormone Weight Loss Center in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.

Mary also teaches aquatic survival skills to children aged six months to six years. She is one of only five instructors in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who are certified by Infant Swim Resource to instruct the youngsters how to swim and survive in the water.

“It’s been very rewarding, giving kids a skill that could save their life. Since I started about a year ago, I’ve already had two reports of lives being saved,” she says.

BC Hall of Famer Chris Georgules: Distance Running Put His Life on Track

October 5, 2015

Chris-G-for-webHe wasn’t exactly Smith, the street-tough borstal boy of Alan Sillitoe’s “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.” But Chris Georgules’ story is strikingly similar. Like that fictional lad, Chris was an at-risk youth who found a purpose, an outlet, and a depth of excellence in himself when he took up distance running.

Chris first distinguished himself on the tracks and cross country trails at Saint John’s High in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. He ended up at Boston College, where he became one of the best and most versatile distance runners in school history.

Like most elite athletes, Chris can tick off the names of many coaches and teammates whose influence and advice were indispensable to him along the way. But none of those track people would have even met him, were it not for Chris’ grandmother, Annie Culhane.

Annie raised Chris, his brother Stefan and his sister Audrey from the time Chris was seven. She sent him to Saint John’s and demanded that he not only study, but also take part in extracurricular activities. He’d been to four different grammar schools and was hanging out with a number of less-than stellar companions. He needed direction and discipline, and Annie told him to go find it.

Though he was lean and athletic, Chris hadn’t enjoyed much success at sport either. He’d been cut from all the teams he tried to make. Cross country was different. Anybody could take part, and there were no squad cuts. He joined up.

“I’d be nowhere without my grandmother. She forced me to do something extracurricular. I wasn’t going around with the greatest crowd and was a problem child until I got to Saint John’s. I think I had some anger issues from moving around so much. When I started running, I did pretty well right away. And I found a different set of friends,” he says.

Chris didn’t just start running. He started winning. He took two state championships in cross country and the indoor mile, and competed on the national level in cross country. More importantly, he learned the responsibilities that come with being a champion athlete. Cross country coach Raul Laborde and track coach Jerry Frew both boosted his confidence and self-esteem in a way that he’d never known. Frew also reminded Chris that younger athletes were now looking up to him, and that he had to behave in an adult-like, responsible way.

Julia, Chris, Ian, and Benjamin

Julia, Chris, Ian, and Benjamin

Lightly recruited despite his high school success, Chris accepted Randy Thomas’s offer of a partial scholarship to BC. By the time he got to college, Chris had made tremendous strides in personal maturity, but he was still a work in progress. He recalls an early cross country meet when he lost a race right at the wire, threw a temper tantrum, and flung his glasses away in frustration.

In stepped team captain Brian Murphy to give the young Mr. Georgules a stern warning that he’d better not that again – ever.

“He was two years older than me at the time, and he made me realize that maybe I wasn’t the best on the team, but that there was a certain attitude that was expected. There were other team members, — Jamalh Prince, Keith Yuen, Pete Hogan. I looked up to them all. They showed me how it could be done, and they also showed me how to relax and have fun. That was something I’d never done in high school either,” he said

“Once I found running, I found my niche. But it wasn’t a passion for me. I liked it and was good at it, but the best parts were the practices, the training runs, the travel, the bus rides. It was the camaraderie, spending time with my team mates. That’s what I valued most. As a runner, I had decent speed but I didn’t set the pace. I was a stick-in-the-pack guy, would stay in third or fourth place, and rely on my speed at the end.”

We’ll take his word that Chris was not a single-minded, triple-A personality competitor. But you’d never know that from the record he set at Boston College.

In cross country, he was the 1992 U.S. National Junior Champion. That same year he competed in the World Junior Championships and finished 55th. He was also the National Catholic Champion and led BC to the team title. In 1994 he was National Catholic Cross Country Champion and paced the Eagles to the team championship.

In indoor track, Chris was a two-time All-American in the 3,000m indoor event. He set BC’s all-time best record for that distance with a time of 7:59.27. He also ranked fourth all-time in the 5,000m indoor, the 5,000m outdoor, and 1,500m outdoor events.

He was 1994 New England champion in the 3,000m; in 1992 and 1993 he ran the mile leg as the Eagles won the IC4A and Big East Distance Medley Relay. In 1995 he was Big East 5000m champion with a time of 14:18.99. He was New England champion in both the 5,000, with a time of 14:29.38, and the 1,500, with a time of 3:47.22.

In outdoor track, he was 1994 New England Champion in the 5,000m with a time of 14:29.38, and 1995 New England Champion in the 1,500m with a time of 3:47.22.

All in all, not bad for a kid who never made another a sports team.

Chris has been teaching English at Woodside Priory School in Portola Valley, California for 15 years. He and his wife of eight years, the former Julia Kilpatrick, are the parents of sons Ian, 4, and Benjamin, 2.

Before moving to California, where he also ran for the Stanford Farm Team and took up triathlons, Chris taught at St John’s in Worcester for five years. In the Golden State he reconnected with former BC teammates Ronan O’ Flaherty and E.J. Sarraille. Right after graduation, that trio had spent ten months touring the world – Europe, Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and home by way of Fiji.


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