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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hometown tribute to Jackie MacMullan

Here's to the one and only Jackie MacMullan, courtesy of her hometown paper:

By Joyce Pellino Crane
GateHouse News Service

Westford — She’s co-authored two books with Celtics great Larry Bird, written a widely-acclaimed account of Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma, and won prestigious journalism awards as a writer and columnist for the Boston Globe. Yet in Westford, Jackie MacMullan is known as Jackie Boyle, wife to Michael and mother to Aly and Doug.

She lives in an unpretentious home near the town center, coaches recreational sports teams, and serves as the secretary to Westford Youth Basketball Association.

She is so private on her home turf that only an inner circle of the town’s 22,000 residents is aware the tall blonde at high school graduations and local restaurants received the Curt Gowdy Media Award, last month, from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. The recognition is one of the highest honors given each year to a sports journalist.

“She doesn’t go around saying who she is,” said Sue Hanly, president of Westford Youth Basketball. “She just lives her life…For us, she’s Doug and Aly’s mom and Mike’s wife. But then when you hear her on TV, I’m always taken aback a little bit, and think ‘wow, she’s impressive.’”

Even if MacMullan weren’t a household name from her appearances on ESPN’s Around the Horn, as a correspondent for cable and network television, and as a regular guest on WEEI-AM radio, she’d still turn heads. Standing 5-feet, 11-inches tall, she played Division 1 basketball for the Wildcats at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

“She has quite the presence when she goes places,” said Hanly, whose son Conor, 14, plays basketball with MacMullan’s son.

Hanly recalled being at an away game with MacMullan who was coaching a boys’ Westford Youth Basketball team. The coach from the opposing team kept telling Jackie Boyle that she looked just like Jackie MacMullan. She didn’t set him straight.

“I really am Jackie Boyle in Westford,” said MacMullan. “I’m not Jackie MacMullan. For me that was important.”

Residents who recognize her have been respectful of her privacy, she said—so much so, that she expressed doubt to a local reporter that they know her real name. They do.

“When she’s around Westford, she makes a point of introducing herself as Jackie Boyle. She never tries to play the famous person part,” said long-time friend, Julie McKenna, whose daughter Beth met Aly in kindergarten at the Nabnasset Elementary School. “I think people recognize her all the time…everyone who know s her also knows that she’s Jackie MacMullan. She’s done a really good job of balancing the two. I think she’s done that so that things are normal for her kids. She wants them to be seen as who they are and not for who their mother is.”

She and Michael, a technology executive for New York Life, moved to town in 1989. Daughter, Aly, now a freshman at a New England-based college, was born two years later, and belonged to the first sixth-grade class to attend the newly-constructed Stony Brook Middle School in 2003. Son Doug was born in 1996 and is an eight-grader at Stony Brook.


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