Every athlete who has played a professional sport at some level was likely a strong talent in other sports growing up. Rarely is the National Hockey League player not the best from his youth teams. Teens today have less of an opportunity to participate in other endeavors because of the on-and-off ice demands of their tier level teams.
For the Sharks John McCarthy, his high school hockey schedule allowed him to play varsity high school football. Simply put, hockey started after football and the ability to play both was beneficial for him both ways.
“I went to Catholic school, so we played a football schedule in the fall that started in August and went to Thanksgiving, which was your big rivalry day,” McCarthy said. “The playoffs were a week after that and then you were done. Hockey started up around Thanksgiving and I was able to play both which was great. I think it’s important to play more than one sport. Athletically, you’re more well-rounded. There are so many things that carry over from sport-to-sport that help you out.”
McCarthy feels being his school’s starting quarterback and leading his team before thousands of people for some games definitely prepped him for playing at Boston University and the NHL.
“I think it helped playing in a lot of high pressure situations,” McCarthy said. “When you go to the next level, be it juniors or college and you’re playing in front of bigger crowds. It’s a little bit less nerve-racking, because you’ve been there before. One Thanksgiving, we had more than 10,000 fans. Super Bowl (the moniker for the Massachusetts state championship game), we must have had 10,000 or so.”
McCarthy was pretty proud of that football team and it was a talented group.
“We went undefeated the whole year then we lost to Everett in the Super Bowl,” McCarthy said. “I had a great time doing that and I think it helped me out. When I was a junior, we had about 16 kids go on to play college football (at some level). One kid got to Notre Dame, two to Vanderbilt and one actually plays for the New York Giants (starting middle linebacker Jonathan Goff). I still train with him in the summers. We had a kid named Matty Antonelli, who’s played infield for the San Diego Padres in 2008. It was pretty exciting, because we had scouts around practice, which was pretty cool.”
No doubt playing quarterback helped McCarthy’s hockey passing skills. “It helps with the physicality of hockey as well,” he said. After all, one has to keep his head on a swivel, look for an open man, be accurate and take a hit from a defender.
This seventh round pick from 2006 continues to impress everyone who sees him play. He scored just four goals in his freshman and sophomore years at BU and potted six as a senior. Last year, McCarthy made his professional debut and scored 15 as part of Worcester’s “Crazed Rats” Line. He’s got two for San Jose. But right now, McCarthy just wants to keep things simple and play well enough to stay on the Sharks roster.
NEXT GAME The Sharks will visit Dallas Thursday at 5:30 p.m. and the game will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.