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Archive for June 2, 2021

June 2, 2021 — The passing of a true legend

Yesterday, it was announced that Cathy McGuirk, who took Branford (Conn.) to an amazing 40 consecutive state tournaments during her 41-year career, died yesterday from complications of ALS.

McGuirk won ten Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference titles in Class M. Those championships were won in a span between 1985 and 2005. The team’s purple patch was at the start of the millenium, when the team won four titles in the five years between 2001 and 2005. Her teams got to the state semifinal round 29 times.

She won 558 games, which puts her in the top 25 for all-time field hockey coaching victories. She and her husband John coached together on the Hornet sideline, and the home ground for the team is named for them.

McGuirk had a distinguished playing career for Southern Connecticut State University. In an era when USA Field Hockey had dominion over championship play, she never yielded a single goal in four years in the goal cage for the Fighting Owls.

That defensive mentality served her well as a coach. She started slowly, with a record of 4-7-2 in her first season, but she would build the Branford program into a state powerhouse and a threat to win every time out.

Aside from using numbers, it is difficult to define McGuirk’s record of success, especially in a sport with so many veteran coaches with more than 500 wins and/or more than 40 years of service. But a paragraph from her page on the Branford Educational Hall of Fame website comes close:

Cathy McGuirk’s obvious love of her students and dedication to them is reciprocated. While always striving to bring out the best in her students and her players, she accepts them for who they are, not as athletes. Her efforts, when a student or player is struggling and feels she can’t do anything right, is to show her-and convince her-that she can. Clearly she has been a resounding success.