Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Local News

A Beautiful Tribute

1

Along East Main Street, current Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) players, wearing team colors, raised their field hockey sticks as the funeral procession for Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) coach Cathy McGuirk prepared to pass the high school June 7.

Photo by Emily Johnson/BHSFH 2013

Along East Main Street, current Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) players, wearing team colors, raised their field hockey sticks as the funeral procession for Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) coach Cathy McGuirk prepared to pass the high school June 7. (Photo by Emily Johnson/BHSFH 2013 )

2

To honor their late coach, Cathy McGuirk, many Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) alumni from her 41 years of coaching lined up in attendance at her June 7 funeral mass at St. Mary Church in Branford. 

Photo by Emily Johnson/BHSFH 2013

To honor their late coach, Cathy McGuirk, many Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) alumni from her 41 years of coaching lined up in attendance at her June 7 funeral mass at St. Mary Church in Branford. (Photo by Emily Johnson/BHSFH 2013 )

3

Here, Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) 1989 and 1991 alumni (l-r) Ginger Smith Barrow, Erika Price Amarante, Margery Leete Resendes, and Heidi Papoosha arrive for the funeral mass of legendary coach Cathy McGuirk at St. Mary Church in Branford, bringing with them their State Championship jackets and field hockey sticks. 

Photo by Emily Johnson/BHSFH 2013

Here, Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) 1989 and 1991 alumni (l-r) Ginger Smith Barrow, Erika Price Amarante, Margery Leete Resendes, and Heidi Papoosha arrive for the funeral mass of legendary coach Cathy McGuirk at St. Mary Church in Branford, bringing with them their State Championship jackets and field hockey sticks. (Photo by Emily Johnson/BHSFH 2013 )

4

Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) alumni representing decades of coaching by Cathy McGuirk support her husband, John McGuirk, as he enters St. Mary Church for her funeral service June 7. 

Photo by Emily Johnson/BHSFH 2013

Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) alumni representing decades of coaching by Cathy McGuirk support her husband, John McGuirk, as he enters St. Mary Church for her funeral service June 7. (Photo by Emily Johnson/BHSFH 2013 )

5

Along East Main Street, current Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) players, wearing team colors, raised their field hockey sticks as the funeral procession for Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) coach Cathy McGuirk prepared to pass the high school June 7.

Photo by Emily Johnson/BHSFH 2013

Along East Main Street, current Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) players, wearing team colors, raised their field hockey sticks as the funeral procession for Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) coach Cathy McGuirk prepared to pass the high school June 7. (Photo by Emily Johnson/BHSFH 2013 )

6

As the funeral procession for Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) coach Cathy McGuirk departed  to St. Agnes Cemetery on June 7,  it passed by Branford High School, where current BHSFH players, wearing team colors, raised their field hockey sticks in salute.

Photo by Emily Johnson/BHSFH 2013

As the funeral procession for Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) coach Cathy McGuirk departed to St. Agnes Cemetery on June 7, it passed by Branford High School, where current BHSFH players, wearing team colors, raised their field hockey sticks in salute. (Photo by Emily Johnson/BHSFH 2013 )

7

As the funeral procession for Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) coach Cathy McGuirk departed  to St. Agnes Cemetery on June 7,  it passed by Branford High School, where current BHSFH players, wearing team colors, raised their field hockey sticks in salute.

Photo by Emily Johnson/BHSFH 2013

As the funeral procession for Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) coach Cathy McGuirk departed to St. Agnes Cemetery on June 7, it passed by Branford High School, where current BHSFH players, wearing team colors, raised their field hockey sticks in salute. (Photo by Emily Johnson/BHSFH 2013 )

8

Outside Branford High School, current BHSFH players stand ready for the funeral procession for Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) coach Cathy McGuirk to pass the school building on June 7.

Photo by Emily Johnson/BHSFH 2013

Outside Branford High School, current BHSFH players stand ready for the funeral procession for Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) coach Cathy McGuirk to pass the school building on June 7. (Photo by Emily Johnson/BHSFH 2013 )

A beautiful tribute to the life of Cathy McGuirk was evident on June 7 as groups of former players spanning 41 years of Branford High School Field Hockey (BHSFH) coached under McGuirk attended her funeral Mass. Some arrived bearing coveted championship jackets and other BHSFH memorabilia and gear from their time under her tutelage, which for many years included coaching players alongside her husband, John McGuirk.

Her former players joined a multitude of funeral Mass attendees at St. Mary Church in Branford on June 7, followed by a Mass of Christian burial in St. Agnes Cemetery. As the funeral procession passed Branford High School (BHS), current players lined the front lawn along East Main Street, dressed in team colors with their field hockey sticks raised in salute.

On May 31, family, friends and the extended BHSFH community learned the heartbreaking news of McGuirk’s passing. A legendary Branford High School (BHS) coach and Branford resident of many years, McGuirk led the school’s field hockey program for 41 years before retiring in 2018.

She is credited with mentoring hundreds of female athletes, who also learned to appreciate “sky breaks” and that “tradition never graduates.” In 2020, upon learning of her recent battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), many BHSFH alumni rallied to show support, organizing a “Miles for McGuirk” fundraising event to benefit ALS research, which culminated with players arriving at the McGuirks’ home at Evergreen Woods in North Branford.

In 2019, Catherine “Cathy” Neary McGuirk was inducted into the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and honored with the naming of the Cathy and John McGuirk Field Hockey Field at BHS that same year. During her coaching tenure, she was also inducted into the Branford Education Hall of Fame, Branford Sports Hall of Fame, and SCSU Athletic Hall of Fame,

With “Mrs. McGuirk” as their head coach, together with her husband John for much of her BHS career, BHSFH played in 14 state finals, advanced to the CIAC state semifinals 29 times, and qualified for the State Tournament for 40 consecutive seasons. She led the Hornets to win gold in 10 state championships (the most recent in 2005) and silver in four state championships, with the last in 2011. In 2016, her team captured the program’s first SCC Tournament title.

She completed her career as BHSFH head coach with a record of 558-129-66-12, owning the most victories for any coach in the history of Connecticut high school field hockey.








Pam Johnson covers news for Branford and North Branford for Zip06. Email Pam at p.johnson@shorepublishing.com.

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