I have a lot of Dick McGee memories, but this one is my favorite.

Whenever I’d cover a Lawrence High School boys basketball game, I’d sit with McGee in the corner of Folsom Gym, just past the Lawrence bench. I’d watch the game and take my notes. He would watch the game and verbally joust with the officials. During breaks in the action, we’d talk. Mostly it was about the Patriots or the Red Sox, but sometimes it was about whatever was going on in my life at the time. I always came away from covering a Lawrence boys basketball game

I never played one down of football for Dick McGee, but he treated me as if I had. That was the way he was, always coaching.

Dick McGee died four and a half years ago. This past week, Colby College honored his memory by naming the football team’s head coaching position the Dick McGee Head Football Coach. A group of Colby football alumni raised $2 million to create the position. McGee coached Colby football for more than a decade, and he was the school’s athletic director from 1974 to 1987. McGee was an assistant coach and professor of physical education for another 10 years after that.

 

McGee meant a lot to a lot of people, because that’s what good coaches do. At Colby, McGee joins a growing list of influential coaches who made their mark on the lives of their athletes and others.

The men’s ice hockey head coach at Colby is the Jack Kelley Head Coach. I met Kelley years ago while covering a Colby vs. Bowdoin men’s hockey game at Alfond Rink. I was lucky to watch the game with him, to watch as he pointed out subtle nuances of the game. I came away knowing a lot more about hockey than I knew when the puck dropped to start the first period.

Years later, I was able to watch Kelley as he sat back and enjoyed the pageantry of the Stanley Cup, when his grandson Andy Saucier hosted the Cup in Waterville as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins coaching staff. Twice.

The Colby men’s basketball program has a pair of endowed coaching positions, which is fitting because the two men should be forever linked. Head coach Dick Whitmore and assistant coach John “Swisher” Mitchell coached the Mules together for four decades.

Whit and Swish. Swish and Whit.

When Swish wanted to let you know he was making an important point, he gently grabbed you arm. He did this to me many times, once on a December morning in a Waterville coffee shop. Christmas was approaching, and Swish wished me the best, to enjoy the time with family. Then he grabbed my arm and leaned in. He read my column every week, he said. He enjoyed it.

“A lot of times, I think you’re full of —-, but I read it,” Swish said.

More than 15 years later, it’s still one of the highest compliments of my career.

Whitmore was one of the first coaches I met when I started work at the Morning Sentinel 19 years ago. His patience was a key to my development as a reporter. I’m better at this for having covered his teams. I just play with words. Imagine the influence Whitmore had on hundreds of basketball players over the years, those who played for him at Colby, and those who simply attended his summer basketball camp.

Colby has the Jack Sandler Memorial Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach and the Dawn Strout Strength and Conditioning Coordinator. Other schools honor their coaches. They remember the past and use it as motivation for the present and future.

Honor these coaches by sharing stories. Current and future athletes who may never get the chance to meet these coaches can honor each by playing hard.

Those of us who never were members of the teams can smile at the memory of a hockey game, or a brief conversation in a coffee shop, or quiet chat courtside at a high school basketball game.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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