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March 17, 2013

Positive influence of McVeigh felt on and off the court

NORTH ANDOVER — My son Kyle never bounced a basketball for Mike McVeigh, never put on a North Andover uniform and never hit the game-winning shot for the legendary coach.

But, in McVeigh’s eyes, Kyle — the team manager for three years — was as important to the program as the leading scorer or the game’s top rebounder.

In a day and age when winning is often looked upon as sport’s most important factor, McVeigh gave us the best of both worlds — winning and caring. During his 31 years as the leader of North Andover’s boys basketball program, McVeigh’s goal was to help each person realize their potential and to realize their importance, not only for the program but in life.

Mike McVeigh (1970 Merrimack College grad) retired last week as North Andover’s basketball coach following a 31-year run that included 497 wins and four appearances in the Division 2 sectional finals.

The latest sectional championship game was a week ago yesterday. McVeigh announced his retirement following North Andover’s 64-59 loss to Brighton, at Tsongas Arena.

“Coach McVeigh accepted me as part of the team and treated me just like a player,” said Kyle, 18, now a freshman at Bridgewater State University and the manager of the Bears’ men’s basketball team. “He never played favorites and showed the same amount of respect for everyone on the team.

“He has been a big influence in my life and I would not be where I am today without him,” said the communications major. “He cares about his players and managers well after graduation. I know he will always be there for me and for all of us.”

As Kyle and I were driving to the Division 2 North title game, I asked him, “What do you miss most about high school?”

Kyle answered immediately: “My three years managing the basketball team.”

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