Photo by Frank Curran
Jerry York '67 is the men’s ice hockey coach at Boston College, and is currently the winningest coach in the history of college hockey. He wrote this reflection for the Fall 2017 issue of C21 Resources, a publication of the Church in the 21st Century Center at Boston College.
My father, Dr. Robert York, attended Georgetown University and was deeply influenced by the Jesuit education he received. After he became a doctor, one of his responsibilities was to care for the Boston College Jesuit community. In those days, doctors had offices in their homes, so Jesuits often came to our house. I was always so impressed by them and the way they conducted themselves. I was the eighth of 10 children and certainly knew we were destined for Jesuit education. I remember vividly the day a nun in my Catholic grammar school told me I had been accepted to Boston College High School. It was a joyous day for me and my family.
There were so many Jesuits at BC High who helped me, but in particular, I was always grateful to Fr. Joe Shea, who was the rector of the BC High community. Back then, there were Sunday communion breakfasts at churches throughout the Archdiocese, and he would invite me and other students to attend. The way he spoke at the breakfasts and interacted with people left a lasting impression on me. At BC High, all of the students talked about going to study at Boston College, Georgetown, or Holy Cross. It was Fr. Shea who convinced me that Boston College was the place for me, and he was absolutely correct.
I entered Boston College in 1963. In November of my freshman year, I was told that Fr. George Lawlor wanted to see me ASAP. I was thinking that I must have done poorly on my math test. When I entered his office, he told me that my father had passed away. For a lengthy time, he comforted me and encouraged me to stay strong. During the wake and funeral, countless Jesuits helped me through my sorrow.
As a student at BC during the 1960s, I sensed the Jesuit influence in my whole being. They stressed important principles such as “Ever to Excel,” making the right choices, helping others, and doing more for the people around you. Those formative years, 18–22, are so critical in determining what you will be later in life, the person you will become. My faith-inspired Jesuit education helped shape my decision-making, how I raised my family, and how I conducted myself professionally. It has always played a unique role in my life.
More than two decades ago, former BC Athletics Director Chet Gladchuck invited me to come to Boston College for an interview with Fr. Monan for the men’s ice hockey coaching position. I met with Fr. Monan in Botolph House. We talked about hockey and expectations, and after 45 minutes he offered me the job. That was the beginning of a relationship I have always cherished. Since 1996, I have also had the distinct pleasure of working under the leadership of Fr. Leahy.
I have now coached at Boston College for 23 years and I realize that the philosophy I encountered here as a student has remained. BC has never been about real estate. It is about the people who are here. This year I celebrated the 50th anniversary of my graduation from Boston College with the Class of 1967. There is a special spirit to the University that we have been fortunate to retain. It is reaffirmed every time I come onto the campus. Every day I am reminded that this is where I want to be. I take such great pride in Boston College, with its remarkable history and promise for an even better future. It has been a wonderful experience, one I would not trade for anything.