When it comes to replacing a high school coaching legend in any sport, it always helps when administrators can find someone who can produce the smoothest transition possible.
Branford co-athletic director Jake Paluzzi feels very lucky when it comes to replacing Branford field hockey legend Cathy McGuirk, who retired after last season after coaching for 41 seasons.
Pete Frye, who has coached the Walsh Middle School field hockey team in Branford the past three seasons, has been named to replace McGuirk.
“Pete Frye is following a legend, but the kids on the team are excited about Frye taking over as coach,” Paluzzi said. “It’s really nice to be able to have someone like him available because of the smooth transition. He knows the girls on the team because he already coached them and the girls are excited because they expect a smooth transition.
“I really feel lucky. We’re excited about this new chapter that is about to begin with our field hockey program. Pete is very organized. He also had his daughter come through the program.”
The Walsh Middle School field hockey team had success each year with Frye, culminating with a school record 11-0 finish last season. The team outscored opponents 42-1 in 2017. Frye’s daughter Carol Frye, who has graduated, was a Register All-Area selection in 2015.
“It’s an honor to be following Cathy McGuirk, I’m in a very cool position,” Frye said. “The kids already know me, I know them and we can hit the ground running for a smooth transition. It’s also a little overwhelming.
“When I got the job Cathy called me, congratulated me and told me where all the field hockey stuff is at the high school. I was 10 years old the first year Cathy took over the team. You’re talking about someone who won state championships and finished with over 500 career wins. I don’t expect to accomplish nearly what she did, but I will do my best to build on it.”
McGuirk ended her career with a 558-129-66-12 record. She leads all CIAC field hockey coaches with the most career wins. McGuirk’s teams won 17 regular-season league titles (the defunct Housatonic League and Southern Connecticut Conference combined). Branford also won a SCC tournament title in 2016. McGuirk ended up with 10 CIAC Class M field hockey titles, the most career titles for one coach in Class L, M or S.
“I know 25 of the 28 girls on the team,” Frye said. “We lost some talented girls to graduation. But I have high expectations for next season because I know these girls. I know what they are capable of and what they can accomplish. I’m excited to have this opportunity to coach these girls again.”