He is one of the obvious names associated with the biggest job opening – the North Andover High boys basketball position – around here in a few years.
After 31 years at the helm, his father, Mike McVeigh, announced his retirement minutes after North Andover lost to eventual state champion Brighton High in the Division 2 North finals at the Tsongas Center.
The position was officially opened 10 days ago.
John not only played for his dad, but he has made being an educator and coaching basketball an important part of his life at Brooks School, which happens to be only 2.8 miles from North Andover High. He’s a life-long, over-achieving (a Division 3 prospect, he went to Division 2 Merrimack where he became captain as a senior) gym rat.
Is there a better guy to take North Andover High to the next level as a consistent Merrimack Valley Conference contender than John McVeigh?
McVeigh has heard the rumblings, too.
“I am definitely not a candidate at North Andover,” said John, who has been teaching and coaching at Brooks for a decade.
“North Andover basketball has been a huge part of my life: as a ball-boy in elementary school, a player in high school, an assistant coach after college, and I’ve been rooting for them since I was eight years old. But I love coaching at Brooks, and really made my mind up about doing my own thing ten years ago when I took the job here.”
John is proud of his program at Brooks and he should be. It has become a New England prep powerhouse with him at the helm.
In fact, because of his commitments at Brooks, he quit coaching the Andover High girls lacrosse team after eight years.
“We try to do things the right way and I feel lucky to coach kids who are such dedicated students and players,” said John.
“It’s a great school and with the young players we have, the future here is bright.”
He, his wife, Candice. and two children, Jack (6) and Kelly (4), live in a townhouse on the campus, which is as picturesque and as green as they come.
Basically, it’s a great gig and he’s got a great life.
“Brooks means a lot more to me than just coaching basketball,” said John, who is an assistant admissions director at the school as well as a chemistry and physics teacher.
“I really enjoy teaching and working here, and my wife and I love raising our kids in this community,” said John.
“The students across the board are bright, talented, hard-working, and really friendly and I work alongside great people.
He admits to being humbled, too, particularly people putting him in the same vain as his father.
“I was lucky enough to play for him and coach with him and I’ll be picking his brain about my Brooks teams for a long time to come,” said John. “I hope some day I can impact my players as meaningfully as he has and I work hard to match the work ethic and time he put into his program.
“But for all the success he’s had on the court, there’s no doubt in my mind he’s an even better father and friend. It’s impossible to put into words just how much of a positive example and influence he’s been in every aspect of my life, and now in my own children’s lives as well.”
As for his dad’s replacement, John feels there are more than a handful of qualified candidates, some names he has heard through the grapevine. One thing that replacement will be able to count on is John’s support.
“I’ll continue to be a big supporter of the North Andover program and hope whoever is coaching can match the same passion, energy, and commitment to the kids of North Andover that coach Bob Licare Sr. and my dad combined to bring to the job for the past 54 years,” said John.
“It’s a wonderful tradition, a great community and a terrific coaching opportunity and I am sure they will hire someone who’s up to the challenge.”