On Tuesday June 24, Norwood High School students wrapped up the year and were getting ready to enjoy their summer vacation, just as their beloved Athletic Director was beginning to enjoy retirement. Brian McDonough, who had lead the Norwood athletes for the past 12 years, was not wasting any time as he began a cross country bike trip the following morning. The trip is scheduled to conclude on September 16 after some two and a half months riding about 4-5 hours per day.
“Wednesday morning I’ll be driving up to Maine to begin a 4000 mile bike trip to Washington State with ten of my closest bike riders, who I haven’t met as of yet,” the Norwood AD said. “The group of adventure cyclists will actually begin the journey three days earlier from Bar Harbor, but I’ll be catching up with them on the 25th as school was still in session. I’ll have to make up the `150 miles at the end.”
McDonough has done some riding in the past; his previous best was a 2000 mile trek through Europe, but nothing like the adventure he was about to embark on. To the AD, this trip will be a good way to begin his retirement.
“It’s been a magical mystery ride through Norwood and I’ll miss it a lot,” he said. “Getting on my bike the day after it all ends will allow me to reflect back on the past 12 years, especially the last two weeks.”
As a Norwood Alumni graduating in 1974, McDonough went on to study at the Franklin Automotive Institute in Boston. Following his graduation from the Institute, he worked in the automotive field while coaching youth football. In 1982, he landed a job at Tri-County Regional Vocational School in Franklin.
“I had never done anything like this before,” McDonough said. “I understood the mechanical part of automotives, but teaching it was a totally different story.”
As the Cougars football and track coach, an opportunity to become the AD at the school came about. McDonough jumped at becoming the AD of the Franklin school, while still teaching automotive part time.
“It was a great chance to learn what an Athletic Director does, McDonough said. “It was low key as Tri-County was still in its original stages and didn’t have that many athletic programs. It was a good school to cut my teeth as an Athletic Director. I consider myself lucky to be at the right place at the right time.”
In 2002, after 20 years at Tri-County, an opportunity arose to go back home and become the AD of his alma mater.
“It was a chance to come home,” the Norwood AD said. “It’s been an incredible ride, one of which I would have never had if it wasn’t for Tri-County giving me a chance.”
It was certainly a phenomenal homecoming as Norwood had seven championship teams in McDonough’s first year at the Mustang helm. Although it was year for the ages, it was one that was never replicated over the last 11 years.
“Seven championship teams – I thought to myself this is pretty easy, unfortunately I never had another year like that,” he said. “Schools go in cycles, we’ve had our ups and downs over the past 12 years, and lately we’ve been getting back to the positive side.”
During his tenure, McDonough has added three athletic programs (girl’s hockey, gymnastics and boys lacrosse) to Norwood.
“We added the three programs to give more kids the opportunity to participate in sports,” the AD said. “Norwood gives everyone a chance to participate in the 4 A’s: Academics, Athletics, Arts and Activities. There is something for everyone at Norwood, if they’re interested.”
After 32 years of being a teacher and Athletic Director, two professions McDonough never thought about when he was attending Norwood High in the mid 70’s, has come to an end.
“I’m going to miss the kids, they’ve been amazing,” McDonough said. “They’d just show up out of the blue to say thank you. We were successful because we had fun. You never really think you have a lot of friends until something like this (his retirement parties) happens. The friendships you gain through athletics last a lifetime.”