Family, friends, media members, Boston College coaches, and past and present players filled the Murray Family Function Room on Tuesday, as Jerry York, the winningest coach in NCAA hockey history, spoke at a press conference following his retirement announcement on Wednesday.
As York stood at the podium in a maroon and gold striped tie and addressed the crowd, his message was not about championship rings or national accolades, but about the relationships he’s made off the ice over the course of his 28-year career at BC.
“You talk all about hall of fames and different things like that, and I love walking in the back of Conte when I see the hall of fame for BC there, but I want to be—and I aspire to be—a husband that makes the hall of fame, a father that makes the hall of fame, a friend to a number of people that’ll make me in the hall of fame,” York said. “Those hall of fames are more important to me than the other ones.”
York announced his retirement after a 50-year tenure as a Division I college hockey coach, during which he won five national championships—one at Bowling Green and four at BC. During his time as a coach he amassed a 1,123–682–128 career record, including 18 NCAA Tournament appearances, 12 Frozen Four appearances, and 11 Hockey East regular season titles.
But on Tuesday, the story of the day was York’s accomplishments as a person, not just as a page in the record books.
“More importantly is the person that everyone in this room knows that he is,” BC Athletics Director Pat Kraft said. “He is the standard. He is, I argue, one of the greatest ambassadors BC has. He is the standard we all live up to. He is a great hockey coach, he is a better person.”
York said that he values the culture of BC Athletics and of BC as an institution. He opened his speech thanking BC administrators for their support throughout his time at the University.
York said he appreciates that at BC, all sports teams, from softball to men’s hockey, come together as a cohesive unit. He said that the support system his fellow coaches have provided has been “extremely important” over the course of his career.
“I think there’s absolutely not one iota of jealousy amongst the different teams,” he said. “We’ve really got a family atmosphere. We’re all learning from each other. … It’s hard to do, but we’ve got it here at BC.”
As York recounted some of the highlight moments of his illustrious career, he touched on one particular memory: the day that former University President Rev. J. Donald Monan, S.J., hired him.
“We talk about memorable moments,” York said. “In ’94, when Father Monan brought me up to his residence on College Road and sat me down, … he says, ‘Jerry, I’d like you to become the next head coach at Boston College,’” York said. “That was probably the most memorable moment—that night. It was something I always aspired to.”
For York, who graduated from BC High in 1963 and earned his bachelor’s degree from BC in 1967, the hire was a homecoming and a chance to coach in Boston, the city in which he grew up.
“It’s special being in Boston,” York said. “Growing up here, my aspirations were always ‘Could I go to BC? Can I actually play hockey at BC?’ So growing up in a family like that, it’s so important to stay close to home.”
Throughout the ceremony, York mentioned the BC’s caliber as an academic institution. York, who has been vocal about his appreciation for BC’s Jesuit ideals in the past, said aspects of the Jesuit tradition impacted the way he coached and grew BC’s hockey program.
“We try to educate the whole man at all the Jesuit schools—not to slight Georgetown or Holy Cross, but I think we probably do it the best here,” York said. “I think [to] be a man for others, that’s been very important for me. So many people just think about themselves, so [to] be a man for others, that’s shaped my life.”