500 games and counting for WSHS coach

Photo by Alexandra Retter 


From left, Brayden McDevitt, Drew Manor, Fran McDevitt, Toni McDevitt and Lucas Manor mark Fran McDevitt’s 500th game as Winona Senior High School boys hockey coach. Current players, alumni and the coach’s family surprised him with a celebration of the milestone at a game last weekend. 



Winona Senior High School Boys Hockey Coach Fran McDevitt wondered why there were so many former players at the game. He didn’t know he’d hit a career milestone of guiding players through 500 games until a surprise celebration at a competition last weekend. “It’s not about me,” he said. “It’s never been about me.” 

Current team members, alumni and McDevitt’s family joined him on the ice at Bud King Ice Arena to surprise him with a celebration of the accomplishment. He was very grateful to see former players and their families again. “It just makes you realize how many people you’ve worked with over the years,” he said. He continued, “I’ve been lucky to coach my three sons and spend all that time with them … and not just them, all the young men that I had the opportunity to work with over time.” 

Players returned that gratitude. Former captain Alex Buerck and former player Drew Manor, one of McDevitt’s sons, said McDevitt’s lessons covered not just hockey, but also how to improve as people. “As a player, you might not always win the game, but his goal was to make you a better person throughout the process, as well as a better hockey player. But his focus was definitely on making you a better person,” Buerck said. 

The warm atmosphere McDevitt fosters for players remains with them after their time on the team. Buerck said he appreciates the camaraderie and sense of family he had while on the team. Lucas Manor, a former player and assistant coach and one of McDevitt’s sons, said he and former players were thrilled to see one another due to the positive team environment. “We’re always thinking back to fond memories, and that’s because of the culture that Fran created,” he said. 

Lots of time and effort go into creating that culture. Fran McDevitt plans for the team just as much today as he did when he started his career, said Toni McDevitt, his wife. “When all those guys walked out to him, and just the pure joy of seeing those boys, that’s what coaching is about for him — the relationships he’s made with all those players,” she said. 

McDevitt’s position allowed him to come full circle. “It was a chance to get back to coach in the arena that I grew up in, that I played in, to come back to the alma mater,” he said. 

The players have kept McDevitt going over the course of his 26 years as a hockey coach, he said. He enjoys seeing them grow, accomplish goals and appreciate their time with one another throughout practices, games and rides to and from games. He also hopes they learn about hard work and discipline while on the team. “Those things, you can carry on through your life,” he said. “We preach three things in our program: good people, good students and good athletes.”