GROTON — A number of Groton-Dunstable go-to people were asked for the one word that describes Derek McCaffrey best, and their reactions were all the same.
It is impossible to describe Derek McCaffrey with just one word.
The Groton-Dunstable senior is in the final year of a brilliant career, which has been highly productive on both the soccer field and basketball court. Derek finished off his soccer career in style, earning All-American honors and being the centerpiece of a strong Crusader team that advanced to the Central Mass. Division 2 semi-finals.
He is presently the point guard for the highly regarded basketball team that is the consensus choice as the favorite in Central Mass. Division 2 this season and just wrapped up their second consecutive Clark Tournament Large School championship. He has been the team’s floor general since becoming the starting point guard in the first game of his freshman season.
Derek has the ability to bring “oohs” and “aahs” in both sports. He has a tremendous skill set, complete with a devastating burst of speed. He has a motor that never stops running, and the durability and stamina to match. His athleticism is off the charts and he has complemented that by continuing to get bigger and stronger throughout the years.
But while all that is in place, the inability to sum Derek up in a single word derives from another strength of his — the ability to remember that high school sports are meant to be fun. Derek’s penchant to enjoy playing the game, any game, and to maximize his effort and competitive spirit have set him apart.
Simply put, Derek McCaffrey relishes the challenge.
On the soccer field, the talented center midfielder earned All-State honors as a junior and was only one of four players in the state to be an All-American as a senior. His numbers have risen steadily throughout his career despite being the focal point of opposition defenses. He scored seven goals and added four assists as a sophomore, and finished with 15 goals and five assists as a junior.
“Derek is the complete package,” said Groton-Dunstable boys soccer coach Jason Gutzler. “He has good size and can dribble, pass and shoot. He is a team guy, is a leader on the field and his sportsmanship is outstanding. Whether it is at practice or in games, he lives to compete.
“Derek was the best player in Central Massachusetts as a senior,” said Gutzler. “He finished with 26 goals and eight assists and he orchestrated everything for us. It was great when I received the call that he had been named All-American and I called him right away. That is a well-deserved honor and it has been a privilege to coach him. I have learned from him. He has been fun to watch and will be impossible to replace. We will be a whole different team without him.”
“Being an All-American is nice but I don’t think about awards,” said Derek. “My winning it speaks for everyone on the team because soccer is not a one person game.”
Derek’s hard work and dedication have paid off as he is off to Boston University on a soccer scholarship starting in the fall.
“Derek was a two-year captain for us and that is rare,” said Gutzler. “He is a great leader and makes players around him better.”
“I really like the coaches and kids at Boston University,” said Derek. “I like the caliber of soccer they play and it is a serious sport there. Educationally, it was the best fit for me although I am undecided what I will major in.”
While basketball is Derek’s second sport, it is a strong second and there is little question he could have played at the next level had he chosen to.
“I have had some great point guards here but Derek is the best of them,” said Groton-Dunstable boys basketball coach Keith Woods. “He enjoys the game to such an extent that he makes everyone feel comfortable. He has provided floor leadership for us and the ball is in his hands 75 percent of the time. He could have averaged 20 points a game, but he does a great job of getting his teammates involved. He sets the table for us. Greg Twomey, Jake Manning and Derek are the three most mentally tough players I have coached.”
Derek’s point production has been consistent throughout his career. He averaged 9.1 points per game as a freshman, 11.2 as a sophomore, 13.0 as a junior and just over 12 this season. In addition, he led team in assists and steals in each of those seasons, while finding time to add about four rebounds per contest.
“Derek is the engine that makes us go,” said Woods. “He controls the tempo on both ends of the court and he has always shown the ability to come up with key baskets and steals. He is electric and can do so many things and can hurt the opposition in so many ways. He is a big match-up problem for opposing teams and I wouldn’t have to try to figure out a way to defend him. He has the ability to rise to the occasion and to take his ame to another level at crunch time. I will cry when he leaves because I have never had a kid who enjoyed the game so much. Had this been his number one sport, he would be a certain Division 2 player and possibly Division 1. I hate soccer but I will go down and watch him play at Boston University.”
How would Derek like to be remembered at Groton-Dunstable?
“As a good kid and teammate and as someone who helped the team win the school’s first MidWach B League championship. I hate leaving but I am excited about the challenges that the next level will bring. I will always remember how close the kids on the teams I played at Groton-Dunstable were, and it was just a great place to play.”
Years from now when Derek McCaffrey’s name is brought up, and those who watched him play or coached himare asked about him, one thing is for sure.
They won’t be able to answer with one word.