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Gold Key recipient Cathy McGuirk has died



Cathy McGuirk, the Hall of Fame field hockey coach from Branford High with the most victories in state history, died on May 31, 2021, after battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. She was 76.


McGuirk was honored with a Gold Key from the Connecticut Sports Writers Alliance in 2014. She retired following the 2017 season with a state record 558 wins. In 41 seasons, her Hornets (558-129-64-12) won 10 state championships and 17 league titles. Branford qualified for the state tournament for 40 consecutive seasons.


She was named national coach of the year in 1994 by the National High School Coaches Association and was inducted into the National High School and Collegiate Field Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019.


She grew up in Westport and went to high school at Central Catholic High in Norwalk where she was named best female athlete as a senior in 1963. She went to college at Southern Connecticut State where she played field hockey and excelled as a goalie. “Playing a shorter schedule than today's teams and wearing much less protection, Cathy was unscored on in four years,” her obituary stated. She also played basketball and tennis for the Owls.


After graduating from Southern in 1967, McGuirk taught for three years at Roxbury Elementary School in Stamford. She married her husband, John, on August 17, 1968. She taught one year at East Haven in middle school before beginning to work in Branford where she spent the final 32 years of her teaching career at the middle school level. She was hired as the head coach at Branford for field hockey in 1977. John coached field hockey with her beginning in 1980 through the end of her career.


“The joy was working with the kids and seeing them improve, that’s why I did it,” said McGuirk when she was inducted into the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2018. “And working as a team with John for 38 years was an incredible experience.”


She was inducted in eight hall of fames including the Branford Education Hall of Fame, the Branford Sports Hall of Fame (1994), the Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) Hall of Fame (1999), the New Agenda Northeast Sports Hall of Fame, the Southern Connecticut State University Hall of Fame (1995) and the Connecticut Field Hockey Hall of Fame.



Photo courtesy New Haven Register


Posted June 3, 2021

1 Comment


cory melon
cory melon
May 06

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