Published in the August 17, 2018 edition


PLYMOUTH, N.H. — Trust us when we tell you Chris McCormack earned this.

The Melrose native and member of the MHS class of 1984 will be inducted into the Plymouth State Athletic Hall of Fame. The University’s 34th induction ceremony will recognize the accomplishments of the 2018 class on Saturday, Oct. 20 at the Eugene and Joan Savage Welcome Center in the PSU Ice Arena.

McCormack will be one of five members of the PSU Hall of Fame’s class of 2018. 

McCormack helped guide the Plymouth State football team to a combined 37-7-1 (.833) mark from 1985-88, including a program-record 20-straight wins covering the 1987-88 seasons under coach Lou Desloges, also a member of the HOF class of ‘18. McCormack was a two-year starting guard and was a part of four NEFC championship teams and participated in the ECAC North Championship game all four years, including the 13-12 win over Ithaca in the 1987 title game.

Despite playing a position that did not generate individual statistics, McCormack earned significant recognition for his performances both on the field and in the classroom. The GTEAcademic All-America team nominee was also a candidate for Pizza Hut Division III All-America honors. Following the 1987 season McCormack was recognized with Eastern College Football Magazine’s Nolan Award presented to the most outstanding small college offensive lineman in New England after posting a 93 percent blocking efficiency.

CHRIS McCORMACK (51) was the starting center for the Melrose High 1982 Middlesex champion and Div. 1 Super Bowl finalists. The Red Raiders were inducted as a team in to the Melrose Athletic Hall of Fame’s 2015 class. McCormack will be inducted into the Plymouth State Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, Oct. 20 at the Eugene and Joan Savage Welcome Center in the PSU Ice Arena. (File Photo)

McCormack was the only offensive player from Division III included when the New England Football Writers Association (NEFWA) announced its 1988 New England All-Star team. The remaining offensive all-stars all played at the D-I level; Holy Cross, University of New Hampshire, Northeastern University, Boston College and Dartmouth College.

But all those accolades almost never happened. 

The summer prior to McCormack’s freshman year at PSU he was working at Bellevue Golf Course. While cutting grass he slipped on wet grass on a hill and his foot went under the lawn mover, cutting off his pinky toe. He was in the hospital for a month getting skin graphs and treatment but they couldn’t reattach it. 

“Several of us used to go and visit him at New England Memorial,” said John Mercer, a fellow MHS hall of famer and current Melrose middle school coach who was a year behind McCormack at MHS. “He never complained once. He swore he was going to play football his freshman year at PSU. I told him no way see you next season.”

When training camp started at Plymouth State in August 1984, McCormack was there – with some extra gear.

“He rotated three pairs of cleats during camp because they were soaked with blood and needed to dry out,” said Mercer. “One of the most mentally tough people I have ever met.”

McCormack went on to be a two-time All-NEFC First Teamer and was named to the All-ECAC First Team in 1988, while also being recognized at the team’s annual banquet as the Offensive Most Valuable Player.

Thanks to his strong work in the classroom, McCormack was awarded the 1987-88 No. 1 Scholar-Athlete award, while also earning the team’s All-Academic Award in both 1987 and 1988. He was also named a Plymouth State Scholar-Athlete following the 1988-89 academic year.

After leaving Plymouth, McCormack spent five years as an offensive line coach at the University of Massachusetts Boston before returning to Melrose where he has coached youth football, helping form the Melrose Middle School football team and serving on the Friends of Melrose Football Board of Directors for over two decades.

Chris is one of six McCormack brothers who grew up on West Wyoming Avenue. Five of them played MHS football. Chris’s brother Kevin (MHS ‘78) played at Harvard and is also in the MHS HOF.  

Chris McCormack was a three-year starting center for MHS for some of the best teams in the history of the program. He started on the 1981 Middlesex League champion team as a sophomore. 

“It was unheard of for a sophomore to start back then,” said Mercer. 

During his junior season in 1982, Melrose repeated as Middlesex League champs and went on to the Div. 1 Super Bowl. McCormack was a League All-Star that year. He was an All-Star again during his senior season in 1983. 

McCormack’s two sons, CJ (MHS ‘11) and Drew (MHS ‘13) also played for Melrose football.

Congratulations to Plymouth State Hall of Famer Chris McCormack. Needless to say, it’s a well-deserved honor for one Melrose’s most important community members.