Published in the December 4, 2018 edition.


WAKEFIELD — There was once a time at the Burlington Ice Palace where you could look all the way up to the top bleacher and see the family of a coach, all bundled up and rooting on the Red Devils game after game, season after season.

That’s where Chrissy (Conceison) Weeden fell in love with the game.

The daughter of legendary Burlington High School head coach, Bob Conceison, it’s safe to say Chrissy Weeden has picked up a wealth of coaching knowledge as she embarks on her first season as head coach of the Wakefield Memorial High School varsity girls’ hockey team. The most important of which can only be understood by someone who grew up with hockey.

“One of the biggest things I have learned from being Coach C’s daughter that I intend to instill with my own program is that hockey is more than a game, it’s a passion,” said Weeden. “My father has taught me that anything you do, do it with passion and drive. I intend to make my players feel like, with me as their coach, they have someone who believes in them enough that even as 30 years go by, they still remember their seasons playing for me like I so often hear the players of the past saying about my father as their coach.”

Coaching was a natural step for Weeden, who is in her fifth year of teaching health at her alma mater, Burlington High. After a standout career as a Red Devil student-athlete, Weeden, to use a coaching term, made an in-game adjustment that wasn’t necessarily in her initial game plan. Rather than continue her career as a hockey player, Weeden decided to go to Bridgewater State to become an education major. Her passion for coaching was instantly ignited.

“I started by coaching youth softball for Burlington and youth hockey for Woburn and continued to do so throughout my four years of college,” said Weeden. “I joined a volunteer program, AmeriCorps, after college and was approached by the Burlington High girls’ varsity head coach (Marty Conley) to be his assistant when I returned home.”

That’s a post she has held for the last five seasons, as her love for hockey grew even more.

In Wakefield, Coach Weeden takes over a promising program. The Warriors went 9-9-2 last year and made the playoffs where they fell to Middlesex rival Winchester in the opening round.

There are plenty of benefits to coaching in your hometown, especially when you are an educator there, but Weeden waited for the right opportunity to become a head coach and luckily for Wakefield, the timing worked out perfectly.

“I know the landscape of the Middlesex League and was interested in moving up with a team within the league,” said Weeden. “I saw the opportunity open up and knew that it was something I should not let go to waste.”

Weeden is viewing this opportunity as a new challenge, and a chance to build up a program that is seeking stability with their third head coach in three seasons.

“This is helping me grow professionally and has taught me a lot about how I want to lead a team from the day I got hired to the first day on the ice this past week,” said Weeden. “What I really like the most is to 22 girls, I am their hockey coach. They know me as that and nothing else. I don’t teach in Wakefield so that gives me an opportunity to reach out beyond my comfort zone of familiar students to work with a new group of student-athletes.”

The Warriors are excited too. In coach Weeden, they have somebody who they can identify with on multiple levels. Here is a dedicated hockey coach, not so far removed from her own playing days in the Middlesex League.

“We are all just really excited about coach Weeden,” said WMHS athletic director Brendan Kent. “She comes from a huge hockey family. She has been around the game her entire life, and coaching is in her blood. Based on all of my interactions with her so far, and all of the feedback I have heard from her references, she appears to be a terrific coach, but an even better person and role model, which is the kind of person I want coaching our kids. I think she is going to do great things for our program.”

Immediate goals and future goals can sometimes vary for a first-time head coach. The Warriors have enough talented and experienced returners that they can go to work on accomplishing some of those long-term goals right off the bat this season.

“My main goal for this season is to remain a competitive team in the Middlesex League. Wakefield has always been a scary team to play and a team that has always been competitive. There is no doubt in my mind that we will be the same this year, and then some,” said Weeden. “As far as the future goes, my main goal would be to keep Wakefield High a place where female hockey players want to come play.”

Weeden is far too focused on the team’s initial scrimmage of the season tomorrow against Bishop Fenwick to look ahead. But who could blame her if she has Dec. 22 circled on her calendar? That’s when the Warriors will line up against Burlington at Weeden’s home Ice Palace.

Maybe bundled up on that top bleacher will be Bob Conceison, cheering on the league’s next great coach.

“I love nothing more than when refs ask if Bob is my father because I know how successful he has been and remains to be behind the bench,” said Weeden. “One of my hopes is that someday, I can be even half the head coach that he is.”

Who knows, maybe on that top bleacher is a Wakefield kid falling in love with hockey. If they want to play for coach Weeden someday, they can start working on becoming the type of teammate that the coach learned to value long ago.

“An ideal student athlete is someone who plays the game of hockey with sportsmanship and respect for teammates and opposing teams while remaining a contributing competitive member of our program,” said Weeden. “From day one, I have told the girls how important it is that we are a team that has a reputation of being competitive, yet a team that others enjoy playing. We are focused on establishing that Wakefield hockey is here to stay and intend on doing so with dignity and grace.”