Photography by Deb McCarthy
Sean Monahan has been coaching the Gatey (Gate of Heaven) CYO for over 30 years. His love for the sport and helping the community of South Boston is in Sean's genes passed down from his father. Sean's dad, Bob Monahan, was the first athletic director of the Gate of Heaven Parish back in the 1960's and was the college sports writer for the Boston Globe. Bob worked closely with Father A. Paul White who founded the Gate of Heaven Youth Organization. Since its inception, the CYO has provided a positive athletic, social and spiritual alternative to the kids of South Boston. In 1970, the Gatey CYO basketball program started and has proven to be an important part in shaping the lives of the residents of South Boston. Sean began coaching basketball in 1979 at the Gatey gym. Currently, the Gatey CYO Basketball League takes place at the Walsh Center at the Municipal Building on East Broadway (a.k.a. The Muni).
Sean is a patient and kind instructor with every kid who plays hoop at the Walsh Center. His teaching technique is one that focuses on positive encouragement. He is soft spoken yet direct and always has a "great job" or "good work" at the ready. Part of his philosophy is instilling confidence and driving home the point that every player is essential. "Every player with different skill levels learn to understand that you need many players to make a good team not just the outstanding athletes. I think the lesser talented players appreciate this more than anyone. They realize the great scorer can't score unless someone gets him the ball and that someone might be them," says Sean.
Teamwork and sportsmanship are also stressed. The kids learn to work together and life-long friendships are formed. "Many of the kids use the support of these friendships later to avoid getting trapped in the problems related to drugs and alcohol," says Sean.
Sean believes in the importance of volunteering and being an active member of the community. "Southie was a great place to grow up and still is because we have so many adults willing to give back and volunteer." Sean recalls one of his own great Southie coaches Mocha Mahoney who would drive eight players every Saturday to play hockey in Cohasset.
Just the facts:
- Sean grew up on East Seventh Street with 4 brothers. "I practically lived down the L Street Bathhouse during the summer - swimming and playing handball or watching legendary handball players like Richie Dahill," says Sean.
- Married to Jean (Flores)
- Has three children: Sean (23), Meaghan (20), and Lucas (14)
- He works as the Supervisor of Accounting for the Boston Public LIbrary. "We handle all the financial statements,billing, collections, accounts payable and accounting for the library."
- Favorite thing about living in Southie: Walking down the street and running into old friends. I try to walk everywhere. I walk to work. I walk to the Walsh Center, the supermarket, everywhere. I always run into somebody. My wife and kids realize when I don't come right back from a quick errand, that I must be talking to somebody I ran into.
- The City recently replaced the roof, windows and floor of the Walsh Center. It's new and improved.
- The Gavin Foundation runs the every day operations of the Walsh Center. They are responsible for keeping this much need facility afloat.
What Sean learned from his father about the importance of being involved in the community, he has instilled in his own children. His son Sean - a recent graduate of Bridgewater State - coaches one of the house league teams, and the fifth grade travel team. His son Lucas - a freshman at Boston Latin Academy - has been helping coach in the instructional program for 3 years. Every Saturday morning, he picks up the coffee and donuts for parents and kids coming for basketball. He also is an assistant coach in the older house league for Brenton Hill (Metro Energy). Meaghan - currently attending UMASS Amherst - played in the Gatey CYO League for many years.
Who plays hoop?
The majority of the children playing basketball in the Gatey CYO League are children of former players or who have parents who grew up in South Boston. Although, there has been an recent influx of kids of new Southie residents joining. "Some of these kids hear about us from friends at school. The parents hear good things from the other parents and they sign up their son or daughter," says Sean. This year the program has grown. According to Sean, Gatey CYO has five Midget League Teams (third through fifth grade), five Cadet League Teams (sixth through eighth grade), and ten more boys in the instructional league than last year.
It's not too late! If your son or daughter would like to play in the Gatey CYO League, stop by and see Sean on Saturday or Sunday at the Walsh Center. As usual, he's there all weekend long and always with a smile.