Track Trailblazer: Pat McGee Left an Indelible Record in WHS Athletic Program

 The Winthrop sports community is remembering Patricia “Pat” McGee as a brilliant track coach and intense competitor who motivated her athletes to achieve success in her program, in academics, and in their lifelong pursuits.

Mrs. McGee, who coached the Winthrop High boys cross country and track teams to several championships, died on Friday, Feb. 24, 2023. She was 94 years old.

Patricia ‘Pat’ McGee

Mrs. McGee was the mother of four children, Dr. Paul McGee, Trisha McGee Diaz, Kevin McGee, and John McGee. She was the wife of the late Arthur J. McGee.

Kevin was a standout defenseman on the 1976 WHS hockey team that won the Division 1 state championship. Trish was an outstanding track athlete and like her brother, is an inductee in the WHS Athletic Hall of Fame.

In recognition of her achievements as a coach, Mrs. McGee was inducted into the Massachusetts State Track Coaches Hall of Fame in 2002. The track at Miller Field is dedicated in her honor. She was an outstanding athlete herself throughout her life, often winning gold medals at the Senior Olympics held in Rhode Island.

“A Dedicated Member of the WPS Family’

Supt. of Schools Lisa Howard said, “Coach Pat McGee will be remembered as a dedicated member of the Winthrop Public Schools family. Pat impacted hundreds of students in the classroom as a dedicated substitute and on the track as Coach for 36 years. During her coaching career, Pat led our students to 16 NEC championships and coached multiple student athletes to obtain titles such as All-American, New England Champion and State Champion. Coach McGee is a Winthrop High School Hall of Famer as well as a Massachusetts State Track Hall of Famer.  Coach McGee had high expectations of her student athletes both on the track and in the classroom, but her coaching did not end there. Coach McGee spent endless amounts of time with her athletes off the track, providing them with guidance and encouragement to be successful in life by just being a good human. Pat will be missed, however her legacy will be with us forever.”

Former Athletes Praise Their Beloved Coach and Mentor

John MacPhail and his brother, Warren MacPhail, have fond memories of their seasons in the Winthrop High athletic program.

“Coach McGee is a once-in-a-lifetime person that changed so many lives,” said John. “She noticed something in me when I was young child and took me under her wing. It was an incredible opportunity to not only grow but enjoy four of the best years of my life in high school. She brought me into the family, and it was more than just success, it was an opportunity to become something special.”

Warren MacPhail competed in cross country for three seasons in Pat McGee’s program in addition to playing varsity basketball and baseball. He went on to serve as an assistant coach on Mrs. McGee’s staff before becoming the girls track and cross country head coach. He is now a head coach at Fisher College.

“I’ve met a lot of really great mentors, but I really think what I do as a coach everyday stems from her,” said Warren. “Coach McGee and Coach [Peter] Grimes were it. They were my biggest mentors as a coach.”

Warren said Pat McGee’s competitiveness was unmatched. “No one could ever question her will to win. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as competitive as she was. There are so many memories that stand out for me, but one big memory was that we had to win a meet against Beverly in order to face Gloucester for the Northeastern Conference championship.

“The meet came down to the mile relay. And the coach of the Beverly team was not showing  good sportsmanship, and it really ticked her off. We ended up winning that meet and beating Gloucester and finishing the season undefeated. After the meet Mrs. McGee went up to the Beverly coach and instead of shaking his hand, she pointed at him and said, ‘I’m so glad I beat you.’’’

Warren said she was so loyal and supportive of her athletes. “The love she had for her boys,  she would do anything for them. I always liked that. I feel I took that with me in my coaching now. I will do anything for my athletes, and I get that from Mrs. McGee. She was a special coach and a special person, and her impact in track and field can never be touched.”

 ‘Those Seasons Are So Special to Me’

 WHS girls hockey head coach Butch Martucci was a shotputter and discus thrower for two NEC championship track teams coached by Mrs. McGee.

“Coach McGee was 100 percent fantastic,” said Martucci. “I loved every minute that I competed in her program.”

Martucci remembers finishing second in the discus at the NEC Freshman-Sophomore Meet. “She selected me to go to the meet, and I was really proud of that,” related Martucci. “I had the best day of my career.”

Martucci said Mrs. McGee was the first female coach in his athletic career. “She was a great woman. It was different because I never had a woman coach up to that point, but being on her team was just great. She was a terrific teacher. I really enjoyed my three seasons in her program. A lot of my compassion comes from Mrs. McGee. She had a lot of compassion for her athletes. She always treated us well. If we weren’t hitting our marks in our events, she would give you a boost and little pointer on how to improve on your next throw.”

Martucci said he still has his WHS varsity track jackets, “because those seasons with Mrs. McGee are so special to me.”

(The Sun-Transcript  had the opportunity to talk with former WHS track star Ken Sirianni, whose clutch victory as the anchor of the mile relay alongside teammates Buster Van Buskirk, Robert Jarvis, and Scott Lerner, helped Winthrop High complete an undefeated season and capture the 1984 NEC championship, the first league title in 29 years. Sirianni’s remembrances of that unforgettable season and his years in Coach Pat McGee’s program will appear in next week’s edition).

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