Former Hockey Coach Chris Gurry Wins John Mariucci Award

Christopher Gurry, Instructor of History and Social Science, recently won the John Mariucci award from the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA), for which he will be honored at the 2011 AHCA Convention in late April. According to the AHCA website, the AHCA created this award in 1987 to honor a secondary school association coach who best exemplifies the spirit, dedication and enthusiasm of the “Godfather of U.S. Hockey,” John Mariucci. Gurry said, “[The award] represents John Mariucci, who was a great hockey player at the University of Minnesota, somebody who they think is in that tradition. Gurry, who did not apply for the award, was surprised at the anonymous nominee recommendation. “I think one of the [major reasons for my award] is that Phillips Academy is really recognized. It’s normally recognized in the academic areas, but [it] is also [recognized] athletically.” “I’m humbled by the award, but I really do believe that being coach for 20 years at Phillips Academy and four years at West Point was instrumental in giving me this award. I think it’s a recognition of me, but I also think it’s a recognition of the school,” he said. Gurry coached college hockey for four years at The United States Military Academy at West Point after graduating from Harvard. He has been at Phillips Academy since 1974, coaching for twenty-six years until 2000, when he spent his remaining twenty years as the head coach of the hockey program. “Coaching, in a way, is almost more art than science, in that what works for one team may not work for another team. You have to be very conscience of who your players are, what their personalities are. In a way, you have to adjust what you do given your strengths and weaknesses and who the individuals are,” he said. Gurry played hockey during his years at Andover before serving as captain of the Harvard hockey team. “At the time, you could only play varsity sports for three years, so I played at Harvard for three years. I did well there and I went on and had the opportunity to go to West Point as a coach during the Vietnam War. I actually had to go into the army, but then I was assigned to West Point after,” he said. He had opportunities to continue in college coaching, however, once he knew that he wanted to coach and go into house counseling and become a teacher, he decided to settle at Phillips Academy. “[During my time here], the last game against Exeter really stands out in my mind as a player. We won 5-1, I scored 4 goals, and then I was thrown out of the game with 2 minutes left in the game. That was before fighting was banned,” he said. “As a coach, my 1995-96 team got to the finals and lost in the finals of the New England Championships to a team whose record was 38 and 1, Cushing Academy. Over the course of the year, we were the only team to beat them, and then they beat us in the finals as retribution.” Gurry appreciates all the relationships he developed with the players on his teams throughout the years. He attended three weddings of his 1995-96 team in the past two years. “I still stay close to the guys who played for me. That’s the big thing—by coaching, you get a very different relationship developed than you do in teaching,” said Gurry. “I’d say that coaching is certainly as difficult as any other aspect of life at Phillips academy, teaching or house counseling, and sometimes it’s much more difficult because you’re dealing with hopes, aspirations, egos, you might even say parents. It really does take up a lot of time, more so than a lot of people who’ve never coached at the varsity level understand. It’s also very rewarding. You create relationships that last forever.”