Publication Date: May 11, 2012
The Post, Ohio University
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Sport is about performance on an individual or team level and the
measurement of that success. Craig McCarthy’s Ohio University hockey
career can be quantified by the three American Collegiate Hockey
Association championships he won behind the bench at Bird Arena.
McCarthy won 78 percent of his games at Ohio, finishing with a record of 215-46-14 at the helm of the Bobcats. In 2001, after eight seasons as Ohio’s coach, McCarthy opted for a change of scenery after being involved with hockey for most of his life.
“I started teaching hockey when I was 12 and started coaching when I was 20,” said McCarthy, who is in both Ohio and the ACHA’s halls of fame. “I think I just needed a break because I had done so much of it from such a young age.”
Another reason it was the right time to leave the program, McCarthy said, was because the team would be in outstanding hands with current coach Dan Morris, and he was not concerned about the future of the program under the guidance of his former player.
But it was hard for McCarthy to stay away from the game he has been involved with for most of his life. Two years ago,, one of his sons told McCarthy that he wanted to try hockey, and it has brought him back full-circle.
“It’s always a tough thing for a coach like Craig to put so much into something and walk away from it,” Morris said. “He knew he would back. The first thing he said when he walked away was, ‘Next time you see me coach, I will be coaching a mite team.’ True to his word, he is back in the rink.”
When McCarthy became a part of the Athens Youth Hockey Association, the mites had less than 10 kids. This year, the program now has 40 youngsters between the mites and the mini-mites.
Morris said laughingly that coaching the mites might be tougher than instructing at the collegiate level because of the sheer number of players on his team.
McCarthy’s primary focus is teaching them more than the X’s and O’s of hockey.
“He teaches those kids life lessons even though they are under 8 years old,” Morris said. “He is great to have back in the ice rink.”
Beyond his coaching duties, McCarthy is an assistant professor of psychology at Ohio University. His wife, Holly Raffle, is part of the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.
Raffle also loves hockey and helps out coaching and training for McCarthy’s mites squad.
“It’s a way of life that I never imagined, but it’s one that I’m very happy with,” she said. “I usually run the offense on the bench for the mites. I used to be an athletic trainer, so I have that background of being on the bench. I’m there to be first aid, to be mom, to be the water person.”
Raffle had to go through certification with the USA Hockey Coaching Education Program. She completed the course as a certified level-two coach.
Elevating the whole personality has served as McCarthy’s mantra throughout his coaching career. Even when he won three consecutive ACHA championships between 1995 and 1997, he said watching his team benefit from the experience was the most enjoyable part.
“It was a great time, not only being together but competing, but the growth of people within the program, not only the players but the trainers and the coaches ... all benefitted from the program and became better people as they were stepping out into the professional world,” McCarthy said.
Morris said McCarthy’s coaching style involves motivating the whole person, not just priming each player to succeed on the ice.
“For as young as he was when he was coaching here, he had great wisdom and he was able to get the most out of a group of guys that he could every time,” said Morris, who owns Ohio’s all-time points record. “It didn’t matter if we weren’t the most talented. That’s the mark of a great coach.”