Sean McCann '94
Ice Hockey - Hall of Fame Class of 2009
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Sean McCann is regarded as one of the top defensemen in Harvard hockey’s storied history. After helping his team to ECAC titles in 1992 and 1993, Sean had on breakout senior year in 1993-1994, scoring 22 goals, a record number for a Harvard defenseman. That season, he was received nearly every recognition a college hockey player could. After taking home the award for Most Outstanding Player at the 1994 ECAC Tournament, Sean was selected to the First Team All ECAC, First Team All Ivy League, and First Team All America. His exceptional skills and on-ice leadership helped to propel Harvard to the Frozen Four and also earned his a spot as a Hobey Baker Award finalist.
Sean’s ties to Harvard Hockey have remained strong as he now imparts his wisdom to Harvard undergraduates as an Assistant Coach to fellow Hall of Famer Ted Donato ’91.
Remembering Harvard Athletics
I would like to thank the Varsity Club and the Selection Committee for this incredible honor and to congratulate the other inductees and my friends who are honored here tonight.
It’s very difficult for me to try to put into words the significance Harvard has had in my life. I have just completed my 7th year as an assistant coach for the Men’s Hockey Team and the sole reason I choose to return to Harvard as a coach was the powerful experience I had as a student and an athlete. I wanted to give others the opportunity to thrive at an institution that sets the standard for excellence. I wanted them to look back at their college experience with pride, fulfillment and the hope that their kids would be as fortunate in their college selection.
My first encounter with Harvard was with former head coach, Ronn Tomassoni, who served as my coach, my mentor and my friend. I had been told by my juniors’ coach that he was coming to see me play and I was extremely nervous; however, he quickly put me at ease during our conversation as he introduced me to the university and the hockey program. I’ll never forget standing in the kitchen at home, phone in hand, when Ronn asked me if he could call me a Harvard Crimson Hockey Player.
Since that day, I have met some of the most remarkable people who have devoted themselves to Harvard and who have impacted my life immeasurably. The summer before freshmen year, I took two classes at Harvard to get acclimated to the University (coming from a foreign country, Canada). During that summer, I walked into the Harvard Shop on JFK St. and met its owner, Paul Corcoran. His enthusiasm, excitement and generous nature were contagious and I spent not only the next 4 years but every year since that day getting to know him and valuing his friendship. This was also the summer that I was introduced to the uninhibited, booming voice of Chet Stone at Dillon who cared about the athletes around Harvard more than anyone else and Jack Kirrane at Bright who forced me to get up at 5:30a.m. to help put in the ice. Jack personified hard work and toughness through his stories of his military service in the Korean War, his glory in the ’48 and ’60 Olympics and his public service as a fire fighter.
The subsequent September, I met my roommates for the next four years, who became my closest friends. Mike Agrillo, Lou Body, Ed Dunlea, Phil Kelley and Derek Maguire, whether they liked it or not, knew me better than anyone; Grillo made every night an event, Sweet Lou could talk his way into or out of anything, Eddie kept everything honest, Kells always had grand plans and Mags understood me best. I want to thank them for making everyday exciting and entertaining and for their unequivocal friendship.
I spent most of my time, outside the classroom, across the river trying to uphold a tradition of excellence established by former greats Bill Cleary, Lane MacDonald and Jerry Pawloski. All three were a great influence on my game and my approach to the sport. Coach Cleary, with his years of experience, always shared words of wisdom even when my frequent trips to the sin bin drove him crazy. Lane, with his calm, confident demeanor, was a steady force (though I’m sure he was relieved to be headed to Stanford vs. spending another year telling me to calm down). Jerry, well Jerry and I saw eye to eye and I’m not sure who that scared more.
My teammates over the four years made my experience special and they are why I returned to Harvard as a coach eight years later. My teammates had a wide range of personalities, yet all were uniformly focused on the same goal. We celebrated huge victories and commiserated over tough losses; however, it was the daily journey - in which we grew together as both teammates and friends – that I value most highly. I would like to thank all of them for making my time at Harvard such a positive experience.
Attending Harvard would not have been possible without the love and support of my family. At the age of 7, my second parents, Bill and Carolyn, took in me and my five brothers and sisters with open arms and gave us a warm home and a second chance. They provided me with the opportunities and confidence to achieve any goal; more importantly, they provided me with the unconditional love I needed to believe in myself. Throughout my four years, they never missed a game - home or away - and stood proudly by as I walked on stage at graduation. I love them deeply for the life they have given me.
Finally, it was at Harvard where I met my wife, Emily. Emily is an amazing person whose personality is as loud as her laugh and whose love is empowering. She is my best friend and tag team partner against our kids Cooper, Emma and Chase.