Hockey coach Mark McHale teaches life lessons too

Dot native Mark McHale, left, has coached the Archbishop Williams High School girls’ varsity hockey team since 2005. Photo courtesy AWHS

Mark McHale, a lifelong resident of Dorchester and coach of the Archbishop Williams High School (AWHS) girls’ varsity hockey team, joined forces with The Boston Bear Cubs—a co-ed amateur hockey team for special needs players age six and up—at Canton Ice House on Sat., Jan. 13.

John Summers, co-coach and volunteer for the Cubs, worked with McHale in the state court system, where McHale has spent 36 years as a probation officer.

The team shared a one-hour practice and drill set and one-hour of scrimmage.

“Scrimmage went awesome,” said McHale. “The interaction between the girls and the Cubs was tremendous, and the atmosphere was electrifying. The smiles on all the faces who competed that day were amazing.”

This is the third time the AWHS girls’ varsity hockey team has skated with the Cubs.

“For the girls, working with the Cubs [means] they’re helping somebody get better at something they love. I don’t think you can beat that,” said McHale. “Student athletes are role models and mentors.

There’s a lot of exchange involved in this other than just hockey. [The team and I] talk about doing something that gives back to somebody, whether it’s making them a better player or person in life.”

McHale began his coaching career in 1983 for South Shore Kings youth hockey and continued as head coach at Don Bosco High School. He transitioned to college hockey at Suffolk University for the men’s’ team and after three seasons, returned to high school hockey at Thayer Academy for the girls’ team. Five years later, he agreed to coach the Lady Bishops program at AWHS.

He was inducted into the Massachusetts State High School Hockey Coaches Hall of Fame last year.

“A coach treats everyone the same from top to bottom and offers support and assistance to athletes on and off the ice.” McHale stated. “Growing up in Dorchester, [I played] hockey, football and baseball on the playgrounds and at the rinks. I’ve always loved being around sports. Playing sports and coaching have been a big part of my life.”

The AWHS girls’ team—whom McHale has coached since 2005—have competed in the state playoffs for seven straight years, and they plan to keep that streak alive this year.

“I am a city-born, Boston born-and-raised person who was always taught to give back when you can, no matter how small it is. If you can help out, just do it.”