Show up early, do your job and work hard. Realize you can’t control every situation, but you can control how prepared you are to handle what comes your way.
Those are some of the lessons Eric McGrath learned during his years playing football and baseball at Classical High and later at Trinity College and they have served him well in life. McGrath is one of 16 people being inducted into the Classical High Hall of Fame on Saturday, May 16, at the Nahant Country Club.
Although he grew up playing Pop Warner Football, McGrath actually didn’t start playing at the high school level until his sophomore year. He was on the golf team his freshman year.
“I was in the stands (at the old Manning Bowl) one day, eating Wendy’s and cheering on the (football) team. A year later, I was in front of that crowd playing,” McGrath said.
The decision to get back into football turned out to be a life-changer for McGrath. After a successful high school career at Classical under coach Matt Durgin and assistant coach Derek Dana, he did a post-graduate year at Avon Old Farms in Connecticut and then was off to Trinity College where he played both football and baseball.
At both Classical and Trinity, McGrath got his chance to shine in football in part because he was ready to go when opportunity knocked. At Classical, someone got into some trouble, McGrath stepped in as quarterback and never relinquished the job. At Trinity, a player from Texas who was the favorite to start at quarterback quit the team to focus on baseball and McGrath, who was a sophomore, was waiting in the wings.
McGrath said the people who helped him at Classical had a lot to do with where he’s at now.
“There were a lot of good people in that building who were genuinely pulling for your success,” he said.
McGrath was particularly appreciative of the help he received from people like former principal William Frost, Christine Landers, Dick Ruth and current principal Gene Constantino (his guidance counselor at the time), as well as coaches Durgin and Dana and baseball coach Jim Tgettis. Daniel Dill, currently a psychologist in the Lynn schools and member of the Hall of Fame Committee, also helped McGrath when he was trying to decide on his prep school/college plans.
“I probably benefit every day from the influence of the adults from Classical. There were a lot of role models who guided me when there was a fork in the road,” he said.
McGrath was a two-time Northeastern Conference All-Star in both football and baseball. He played in the Massachusetts/Connecticut All-Star game at Fenway Park and his Classical team won the NEC title his junior year (he went 8-0 with a .77 ERA). He played in both the Agganis Classic and Shriners football All-Star game and earned Herald All-Scholastic honors in baseball and in football.
McGrath’s accomplishments at Trinity read like a record book. In a thrilling 28-27 win over Tufts he set Trinity records for completions (34-of-57), passing yards (470 yards) and total offense. He set a Trinity record for the longest pass (a 99-yard touchdown throw) in 2007. Over the course of his career, he completed 391 passes in 735 attempts for 5,292 yards. He threw 46 touchdowns and 25 interceptions for an efficiency rating of 127.5. He also ran for three touchdowns and caught two touchdown passes.
McGrath was the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Northeast Player of the Year and the New England Small College Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year. McGrath played baseball at Trinity for three years and as a junior, he pitched for a Bantam team that won the NCAA Division 3 National Championship.
“Athletics afforded me the opportunity to get a top notch education,” McGrath said. “The Trinity experience was amazing and the Avon experience – I met so many great people there and made so many alumni connections.”
McGrath graduated from Trinity College in 2009. He was hired by Suffolk Construction right out of college and he has been there for the last six years. He’s a project manager working primarily in the area of heathcare, science and technology. McGrath is the son of Pat and Sharon McGrath. He lives in Boston.