Jim Madigan, DMSB’86, has been the head coach of Northeastern University’s Men’s Hockey since 2011, but his history with the sport goes back to his early life, first picking up a hockey stick at age four. Recently named the first Fernie Flaman Endowed Hockey Coach, Madigan reflects below on his career at Northeastern and his time spent playing and coaching in the sport he loves.
Q:What is your current profession and what led you there?
I am currently the Head Coach for Northeastern’s Men’s Hockey team. I have been involved in hockey since I was 4 years old, beginning as a child in Montreal, then moving to Toronto as a 14-year-old and playing through my teenage years, and then finally being fortunate to attend Northeastern as a student-athlete in 1981. After playing four years at Northeastern, I was able to begin my coaching career as an assistant in 1985-86 at the University of Vermont and then returned back to Northeastern in September 1986 as an assistant hockey coach. After being an assistant coach from 1986-1993, I transitioned into three different roles at Northeastern for the next 18 years and then returned back as the Head Coach of the hockey program in July 2011. During those 18 years of not coaching, I worked as an NHL scout on a part-time basis, which allowed me to return back to coaching in 2011.
Q:Why Hockey? What does the sport mean to you as a player, spectator, scout, and coach? How did D’Amore-McKim prepare you for your coaching career?
Growing up as a child in Montreal, I was exposed to hockey at a very young age. We had a rink in our back yard, so I was always able to skate and play from the early age of 4. I played many other sports as a kid, but hockey was my passion and it allowed me to form great friendships growing up. Hockey, like many sports, provides you with a different type of education than what you receive in the classroom. Hockey allowed me to develop key skills like work ethic, teamwork, working together towards common goals, learning how to deal with adversity, resiliency, determination, sportsmanship and leadership. Quite simply, it helped me develop better character and made me a better person. I have been involved with hockey for 51 years at the youth, high school, college, and professional levels, and it has provided me with many opportunities over those years. Hockey has afforded me the chance to visit cities and regions all over North America and Europe and enjoy experiences that I will always cherish. But more than that, hockey has enhanced my life through the wonderful friendships and relationships that I have built and that will last a lifetime.
My business skills are on display each and every day as a hockey coach, from leading 28 young men toward a set of goals we want to accomplish each season, to managing the financial budget, cultivating and stewarding relationships with our university and hockey alumni, and communicating with internal constituencies on campus to build synergies and relationships. These business skills that I acquired from D’Amore-McKim have assisted me greatly with effectively managing our hockey program and its student-athletes.
Q: What are your most interesting memories from your time at Northeastern?
I have a few wonderful memories during my 36-year tenure on Huntington Avenue, and they are shared between athletics and academics. On the athletic front, during my freshman year I was a member of our 1981-82 hockey team that won the ECAC Championship and advanced to the Frozen Four Hockey Championship… this is still the most successful team in the history of the hockey program. Also, coaching the 2015-16 hockey team that won the Hockey East Championship was a wonderful experience and a memory that I will always cherish. That team had a very poor start to the season and overcame many obstacles to win the championship. On the academic side, being able to present my two daughters with their D’Amore-McKim diploma at the Northeastern Commencement ceremony at Boston Garden is a memory I will always treasure. I was so proud of them to have had their own Northeastern and D’Amore-McKim experience, and I have watched them develop into wonderful young women.
Q:Do you have any additional insights for the D’Amore-McKim community?
I grew up in a lower middle class family in Montreal, and we didn’t have much money, but my parents were always giving back. They would contribute as much as they could financially, which was not a lot, but my mother was always involved in donating her time and talent to assist many causes and organizations. So with that in mind, I knew it was important to give back, particularly to Northeastern and D’Amore-McKim who provided me and my family so much. I remember making my first gift of $500 while I was on co-op and in my fifth year…it was for the new hockey players lounge. Although it was a lot of money for me at the time, I remember how good I felt to be able to contribute to a worthy cause and give back to a program that had just given me so much. As I continued through my career, I have witnessed first-hand how private philanthropic support can have a positive impact on our students, faculty, programs, and university. Regardless of what my income level or position was at the university, I always wanted to support the various areas of my interests…athletics, D’Amore-McKim, and scholarship support. I feel fortunate now to be in a position to provide greater financial support to our wonderful institution. My goal was always to be able to donate more than the scholarship support I received during my time as a student-athlete at Northeastern ($75K). With my current giving and as a member of The Speare Society, I will exceed this goal. I like to think that I have made a small contribution to the overall mission of the university during my 31-year career, but my family and I have received much more than what I will ever be able to repay or give back to Northeastern, and for that I am deeply fortunate and grateful!