Brian McGan coaches final softball game for Hampshire Regional



Published: 06-14-2017 11:19 AM

HUDSON — The tears formed behind Brian McGan’s mirrored sunglasses.

Hampshire Regional’s softball coach for the past decade watched his final game through the darkened frames, but took them off after the Raiders’ 5-0 loss to Grafton in the Division 2 state semifinals.

He knew coming in that Tuesday could be his final game. McGan decided before the season began that it would be his last. He wanted to spend more time watching his youngest daughter, Hampshire senior Danielle McGan, play in college at Keene State.

Her older sister Ashley also played for the Owls, but Brian didn’t get to see her as much as he would have liked because he was coaching the Raiders.

“I missed a lot of things a dad misses with a kid experiencing college ball,” Brian McGan said after the Raiders won the Western Massachusetts title on Saturday.

He didn’t want Tuesday to be the end. A third straight state title would have been a storybook ending. The reality was an 1½-hour bus ride home after a no-hitter.

Despite trailing by four runs after two innings and five going into the seventh, Brian McGan didn’t let himself become nostalgic until the final out. He even caught a foul ball barehanded from the third base coach’s box to oohs and aahs.

“I’m the kind of guy that will not quit until the last strike,” he said. “I thought in my head, ‘what a run.’”

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Hampshire won five Western Mass. titles during McGan’s tenure and state championships in 2015 and 2016.

“It’s been a battle every year. As a coach, how much more proud could I be of an organization than this?” he said. “I knew we were going to do well, but I never expected to be as good as we were.”

In addition to being Coach McGan, he was a teacher and a cartographer. McGan taught the Raiders how to hit and field, and turned raw, young athletes into champions.

Hampshire senior Katy O’Connor was entering sixth grade when she moved to Southampton into a house neighboring the McGans.

“He’s like another dad to me in my backyard,” she said. “When I first started the sport I was raw, didn’t really know how to play softball. It’s been amazing what he’s done for my game.”

McGan also helped put Hampshire on the map.

“You could see other teams respecting us. You could see ‘where’s that little school from up on the hill?’ Hampshire Regional? Who are they?” Brian McGan said. “It kept growing and growing into a dynasty, and I still feel that way.”

His coaching career ended with Danielle McGan on the mound. She was pressed into service in the circle partway through the season and pitched the Raiders to a sectional title.

“It’s kind of a bittersweet moment,” she said. “It’s nice knowing he wants to keep watching me play. I’m glad he wants to.”

After a strikeout ended the game, Brian McGan brought the Raiders into right field at Hudson High School. They sat in a circle around him as he explained his pride in the group after everything they achieved during the season.

“I don’t think anybody expected us to be here,” he said.

Then he kept Hampshire’s five seniors for one last chat. Just like it was their last game in Raider red, it was his, too. They had tears in their eyes. So did he.

That meeting marked the end of Brian’s time as Hampshire’s Coach McGan. He’s good just being “Dad.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at