It started sixteen years ago on a warm Friday night down at the neck. As a family who was dealing with the tragic loss of a 9-year-old hockey player. A son, a nephew, a grandchild, a cousin a friend – one of our own. We felt we needed to find a way to help our town to deal with our loss and their loss – a town that had done so many wonderful things in our darkest hours. We decided we would never be able to say thank you enough that people would truly understand our heartfelt gratitude.
Bryan was a member of Charlestown’s hockey family. We thought this was where we could start to help a town to heal and say thank you at the same time, thus the first tournament was off and running. For people to see Bryan’s family and friends coming together and enjoying each other’s company and love for hockey would help everyone involved. Our goal was for kids and families to gather play hockey and have some fun. The first year was a huge success. All of Bryan’s friends came, all his relatives were there the whole town was there. It was something as a family we will never forget.
Over the years the tournament took on a significant role in our town. Kids could be heard saying “I can’t wait to play in the McGonagle tournament.” Their parents, their grandparents, their aunts and uncles would come – the whole family would come. At times it was hard to get a clear view of the kids playing because so many people were there. We decided to expand our efforts we added a 3-5 year old division. We thought this would be a great introduction to hockey and team sports for the kids that had watched their older brother’s and sister’s play. It was a magical time from the very first face off. Most young kids loved it, although some cried and did not want to do it and that was ok with us. Instead they wanted an ice cream from the ice cream truck. Or they wanted to get their face painted or they just wanted a hot dog. Or they just wanted a shirt like their big brother or sister had. As long as they were happy we knew we were doing it right.
We soon understood that we had found the right venue to help our family and the hockey family and a town to heal. The tournament was doing all the things we had hoped it would do and more. Every year parents would call or drop into my office and say, “We were away,” or “I forgot to get my son’s application in on time – can you still put him on a team?” We never once turned a child away not in sixteen years – that was not our goal. Instead we would find a way to make it work. You can not make something like this last and run as smoothly as it did without the help of many wonderful people. Who were with us from the very first night selling 50-50 tickets cooking hot dogs and cheeseburgers, coaching teams running to BJ’s for more supplies, donating raffle prizes and free ice, face painting, providing great music or blowing a whistle. To these people as a family we want to thank you for your loyalty your time and your love. You folks are the reason this worked and lasted as long as it did. Over the past four or five years our numbers began to decrease. When we started we were the only game in town. Today there are many wonderful organizations that draw the same kids as us. So for the first time in seventeen years we will not be having a tournament. We have had so many wonderful memories and laughs over the years. We as a family can never repay a town for their support or thank you enough for your help throughout the years. I hope in the future maybe the numbers will be there to run another tournament like ours. Some of the younger people in the town can create a new tradition for families to come together and enjoy the kind of days we were blessed to have shared. In closing again thank you to all our volunteers, donors, friends and players who truly helped a family in need. Charlestown is like no other place. This is just another example of how we take the time to help our own.
Thank you to Massport and to the Patriot for their years of support.
The McGonagle family
The Kelly family
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