Bob Gilligan, the architect of Beverly High School’s first ever state hockey championship this past winter, has retired as the boys hockey head coach after 11 years on the job.
“It’s been a great ride,” said the 60-year-old Gilligan, who retires with a career mark of 132-75-16 behind the Beverly High bench. “It’s a decision that I knew, in my mind, that I wanted to do, and now seems like the right time.
“I was asked to coach this team out of the clear blue, and that was 11 years ago ... it’s been a great experience. I couldn’t be any happier for the kids I coached, the people I worked with and the people I dealt with. They’ve all certainly meant a lot to me ... and we left our mark on the program.”
Asked to take over the BHS varsity team seven games into the 2003-04 season, Gilligan did so for the next 223 games, culminating with the Panthers’ 2-1 victory over Medfield in the Division 2 state championship at the TD Garden in Boston 81 days ago.
Gilligan’s teams had winning records in eight of his 11 seasons, including back-to-back Northeastern Conference North titles the last two winters. He is the school’s all-time leader in winning percentage by a hockey coach (.628). In the past two years, he guided the Orange-and-Black to a combined 40-3-2 record, the best 45-game stretch in school history.
And he did so having battled, and beaten, cancer twice within a three-and-a-half year span. The 10 just-graduated Panther hockey seniors were there for all of it, finding out from their coach of his initial diagnosis during their freshman season and being there three years later to celebrate a state title with him on the Garden ice. So it seems infinitely perfect that he’s exiting as head coach as they are from high school itself.