The McGuirl family has put a lot of miles on its cars over the years, and the cars have most often been going in different directions. The destinations are always similar – a baseball field here, a hockey rink there. But they’ve rarely been the same.
It comes with the territory for a sports family.
The McGuirls are happy that, for at least one summer, everyone’s finally in one place.
Dave McGuirl is the manager of the New England Frozen Lemonade American Legion team. His son Don is the starting shortstop and his son Nick is the starting second baseman.
It’s been a while.
Don and Nick are both hockey and baseball stand-outs, but their two-year age difference and their high-school destinations have kept them apart since their Little League days at Warwick National.
“New England Pest Control – that was the team,” Dave McGuirl said. “Donnie was 12, Nick was 10. That’s the last time they were on the same team.”
And the last time the family cars could go to the same place.
Don started playing AAU baseball after Little League, and Dave coached the team. That pulled him away from Nick’s games at National.
When it came time for Don to go to high school, he chose St. Sebastian’s, a prep school in Needham, Mass., where he would play hockey and baseball.
Two years later, Nick went to Pilgrim.
And the juggling continued.
“I go one way, and my wife Trish goes the other way,” Dave McGuirl said. “And they keep track. They don’t let us off easy. If Trish has been to a bunch of Donnie’s games, Nick will say, ‘Mom, why aren’t you coming to my games?’”
Sibling rivalry aside, the winters and springs haven’t been easy on anybody. And the arrangement extended into the summer. Don started playing at the senior legion level with Shields Post 43. Nick was doing AAU at the time, and Dave was coaching that team.
Last year, after Nick’s sophomore season, he was invited to play senior legion – on another team.
The one-year arrangement that had NEFL taking veterans and Shields taking young players sent Don to NEFL and Nick to Shields. Dave, who used to be an assistant at Warwick Vets, took over as the NEFL manager and barely got to see Nick play.
“When he played us, he went 3-for-3,” Dave said. “He made it count, but I might have seen him one or two other times.”
This year, it finally came together.
Don was set to return to NEFL. Nick was coming off a strong junior season with Pilgrim and was a shoo-in to make the team too.
The McGuirls are finally on the same field.
“It’s been really nice,” Dave said. “I’ve missed a lot of their games because I was with one or the other the last couple of years. It’s been a very convenient summer.”
Trish no longer has to choose games either. Dave’s parents often attend as well, and it’s easier on them.
The team isn’t complaining either. Don is a team leader and a star with the bat and glove. Nick had a strong summer with Shields last year and is picking up where he left off this season.
NEFL is 11-3 and sitting in first place.
From McGuirl’s perspective, a family atmosphere is a big reason why – and it’s not just his family. The majority of the NEFL starters came through Warwick National with the McGuirls.
“I’ve known a lot of these kids since they were five or six, out there playing tee-ball,” Dave said. “All these kids have been through a lot together. I actually had a chance to add a kid to the team recently, but I didn’t want to throw the chemistry off. These kids really like each other.”
That should make for a good summer, and the McGuirls would like it to end the same way it did the last time they were together. That New England Pest Control team won the Warwick National championship.
However it plays out, the McGuirls will try to make the most of it. Next year, Don will play hockey and baseball at St. Michael’s College in Vermont. He plans to major in biology and go on to medical school.
Nick is making a move as well. He’s planning to leave Pilgrim for Worcester Academy, where he’s been invited to play hockey.
That means when winter comes, the McGuirls will be on the road again.
But at least they’ve got the summer.
“It’s been great so far,” Dave said. “Hopefully we can keep playing well and make a run at it.”