A successful coaching career is hardly defined by wins alone. Still, there’s something special about milestone victories—in this case, Berkshire Varsity Hockey Coach Dan Driscoll’s 400th career win.
Driscoll, who’s coaching in his 14th year at Berkshire School and 24th year of prep school hockey, reached win No. 400 when his Bears defeated Williston Northampton 7-1 in Easthampton on Saturday. Driscoll celebrated the milestone, albeit briefly, on the ice, surrounded by his players, assistant coaches, and his family.
“I haven’t really thought about it, and I’ve never really thought about it,” Driscoll says about reaching the mark.
“To get to 400, honestly, I’ve hung around long enough,” he adds. “I’ve coached at schools where there’s been a lot of support and I’ve also been fortunate and blessed to coach great kids and great players. It’s more a testament of the kids I’ve been around. It’s really a celebration of them.”
It’s hardly a surprise to hear Driscoll downplay the impressive collection of wins he’s compiled over a two-decades-plus coaching career, but his players are more inclined to give credit where credit is due.
“The 400 wins he has aren’t his only wins,” says former Bear Kevin Sullivan ’10, who Driscoll helped prepare for Div. I collegiate hockey at Union College. “He’s a part of all his former player’s wins, at every level.”
Sullivan, in fact, credits his former coach with helping the Dutchmen win the team’s first ever NCAA Div. I National Championship back in 2014. “Coach Driscoll taught me the importance of working hard not only in hockey, but in life,” Sullivan adds.
Similar sentiments are repeated over and over again by Driscoll’s former players and, like his wins, begin to add up to an impressive record of achievement.
“Playing for Coach Driscoll has been an honor and a privilege,” says Berkshire senior Briggs Gammill ’20, whose two older brothers also played for Driscoll. “He’s taught me so much about the game but more importantly he taught me how to be a leader on and off the ice.”
“Coach Driscoll kept everyone accountable, regardless of their role on the team,” says former Berkshire hockey standout Charlie Corcoran ’14, who now plays professionally in Europe. “He told me some hard truths I hadn’t really been told before. He was my dad away from home. I am a better man for knowing him.”
Corcoran, a member of Berkshire’s 2012-2013 team which enjoyed a 20-game win streak and finished the season with a 22-4-3 record, helped Driscoll earn his third New England championship. Driscoll had previously guided Winchendon Prep to two Division II titles before spending five years at Pomfret, where his teams always finished with a winning record.
For all his success, Driscoll has been named New England Prep School Coach of the Year four times: in 1997, 1999, 2007, and 2013.
Known as a serious coach on the ice, and for his fairness and sense of humor off of it, Driscoll’s kindness once earned a former player the nickname, “the sixth Driscoll.”
Thomas Regan ’08 got the nickname after he was invited to live with Driscoll and his wife, Dory, as well as the couple’s five children, at their off-campus home at Pomfret. The offer, Regan recalls, allowed him to attend the school as a day student and play hockey for coach Driscoll. When the Driscolls moved to Sheffield in 2006, Regan joined the family and enrolled at Berkshire as a junior.
“I know that my experience with Coach Driscoll wasn’t exactly like every athlete he coached… I mean he only had so many bedrooms to spare,” jokes Regan.
Yet, Regan’s experience isn’t all that unusual.
Take current Boston Bruins player and former Bear Kevan Miller ’07, who left California to play for Berkshire in 2005. In just one season together, Miller and Driscoll formed a close bond, a connection the pair shares today.
“Whether it was school, hockey, or any other activity, he always demanded we give our best,” says Miller. “My favorite memory of coach is a collection of memories from Buck Dormitory, whether it was breaking up a rowdy bunch of boys or bringing everyone down to watch the game after study hours, he ran a tight ship but was always good for a few laughs.”
In addition to leading by example in the dorms or from the bench, Driscoll has also served as Berkshire’s director of athletics for a dozen years and he worked for many years as a college counselor. Along the way, he also got to coach his two sons, Dan Jr. and Mark.
“I think Dad’s strongest ability is reading kids,” says Dan Jr. “We always had fun at practice and on road to trips to games, and of course there were times when things got serious, but he is always a fun, loving and respectful coach.”
Head of School Pieter Mulder believes Driscoll’s connections to his players transcend the rink and their days as players.
"So much of Dan's success lies in his ability to inspire young people to commit beyond themselves to the larger goals of the team,” says Mulder. “He changes lives with every practice and every game. As a school leader with a reach well beyond the rink, Dan has also been an integral member of our team, making the entire Berkshire community that much stronger because of it. I couldn't be happier or prouder for what this leadership milestone represents for Dan and his players."
As Driscoll himself would say, ‘Go Bears!’