Year Inducted: 1998
It is not often that a high school sports coach is so revered that he continues to be honoured 30 years after his retirement.
But that is exactly the way it is with Andy McGillis. Every year, men who were coached by McGillis as boys at St. Leo’s Academy in Westmount, Que., get together to affectionately toast him as a major influence in their lives.
From 1938 until 1967, McGillis was the full-time athletic coach as St. Leo’s, a small school on Clarke Avenue in Westmount that, even with seven years of grade school and four years of high school, never had an enrollment of more than about 200 boys.
The versatile McGillis coached all sports, including hockey, football, boxing and basketball. Unlike most high school coaches, McGillis was a full-time athletic director and taught no other subjects. Despite its size, St. Leo’s teams consistently held their own against schools 10 times larger.
During his years as coach, McGillis’s teams won 12 City of Montreal hockey championship and three football titles. In one year in the late 40s, when McGill University won four national intercollegiate boxing championships, all four boxers had been coached by McGillis at St. Leo’s before going on to McGill.
No other coach in the Montreal area ever equalled McGillis’ record of successes with the limited facilities with which he had to work at St. Leo’s. No other coach anywhere, in the opinion of the men who gather every year to honour him, was ever held in such affection and respect as McGillis.
Andrew (Andy) McGillis was born on the family farm, the west half of lot 30, 5th concession of Lochiel Township, in 1911. His mother was Lorinda McMillan of Lochiel. McGillis’ ancestors had come to the area over a century earlier from the Highlands of Scotland.
His father’s sister, Theresa married Archie Chisholm, and their son, McGillis’ first cousin, Colin Chisholm was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994.
He came to St. Leo’s Academy as athletic director when he was 27 years old and retired 30 years later. His favorite saying, the one he lived by, was framed on the wall of his office. It was by the famous American sportswriter Grantland Rice: “When the one great scorer comes to write against your name, he writes not whether you won or lost, but how you played the game.”
McGillis is now 87 years old. He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on August 26.