Athletic Director Brian McDonough is retiring at the end of the school year. One of his big plans in retirement is to bike to Washington. Wicked Local staff photo / Brad Cole
By Brad Cole
Some people might spend their retirement relaxing, but Athletic Director Brian McDonough has other plans.
"When school gets out on June 24, the last day, I’m driving up to Maine. On the 26th of June, I’m starting a 4,000 mile bike ride to Anacortes, Washington," McDonough said. "I’ll be taking the northern route with 10 of my closet friends who I haven’t met yet."
Over the course of 85 days, McDonough will bike four to five hours per day, with plans to stop at numerous fire departments and coffee houses along the way.
"It was one of those bucket list things," McDonough said. It will allow me to meet people, and that’s what I’m looking forward too: meeting people along the way."
But before he begins this bike ride, McDonough must first finish the school year. Since 2002, he has served as Athletic Director in Norwood. Under his watch, Norwood High has added three new varsity programs, girls’ ice hockey, boys’ lacrosse and gymnastics.
"One of the main things in adding those programs is it gave more kids an opportunity to participate. That is the one thing I’m most proud of: Norwood High School gives everyone the opportunity to participate in the Four A’s, athletics, art, activities and academics," McDonough said. "There is a sport for everyone, if they’re interested."
The majority of the student population is, as more than 550 students participated in high school sports this year. This includes nine seniors who played three sports all four years of their high school career.
"It is great we give them the opportunity to participate, and they take advantage of that," McDonough said. "There is always something a kid can participate in, which is great. There are some many life lessons that can be taught on the field, on the court or on the ice. (Athletes) learn about teamwork, effort and commitment."
He said this final year was very much like a senior year for him, though his actual Norwood High senior year was 40 years ago, as he is a member of the Class of 1974. Still, this year had several high school highlights. He called Dancing with the Norwood Stars his prom and the athletic awards night his graduation.
There have been a number of memorable moments over the years, one of the biggest came in 2011.
"One of the biggest moments was being able to move into the new school here," McDonough said, specifically citing their first home football game, which was attended by the likes of Representative Stephen Lynch and state Rep. John Rogers, D-Norwood.
"We had a state police helicopter fly over that first game, which was something special," McDonough said.
There were a number of student athletes who impressed over the years. This started in the 2002-2003 school year, as seven teams won championships in his first year as Athletic Director.
"I said, ‘wow, is it like this all the time?" McDonough said.
Standout players included Meghan Staffiere Corbett, who is now assistant station manager at NPA-TV, Ali Maloof, who has broken a number of softball records at Southern New Hampshire University, and Allison Ryan, who hold the Norwood High single season scoring record in lacrosse and most goals scored over four years.
And then there was Matt Brown.
Brown was suffered from a paralyzing spinal cord injury in a game against Weymouth in 2010. McDonough described it as most serious injury he has seen in his career.
"Over my 30 plus years in education, Matt is without a doubt the most inspirational person I have been fortunate to know. We use athletics to teach character, discipline, leadership, and hard work. Matt epitomizes these characteristics every day in his life," McDonough said. "The school, community of Norwood, and the country rallied around Matt and his family. This show of support displayed teamwork on a grand scale."
Jon Longley, athletic director for North Andover public schools, will take over for McDonough.
"I gave him a card telling him he is coming to a great school in a great community that is passionate about sports," McDonough said.
Norwood High Principal George Usevich said McDonough’s presence will be missed at the school.
"He is not only a trusted colleague, but a real friend," Usevich said. "He takes his job very seriously, and he made some hard decisions, but Brian has always been honest and fair in everything he’s done. I’m truly going to miss him because you know everything was being taken care of in the athletic office."
McDonough said he feels blessed, and thanks his family for all the support they’ve given him during his time as Athletic Director.
"This is an incredible job. It’s s positive and upbeat. It’s been an incredible journey for me," McDonough said. "I’ve been lucky. As I ride into the sunset, literally, I’m smiling with fond memories from my years at Norwood."
Staff writer Brad Cole can be reached at 781-433-8339 or
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