Carpenter inducted into the Westford Academy Athletic Hall of Fame


James Farley

Carpenter has built a legacy as head coach for the Boys’ Hockey team, leading to his Hall of Fame induction.

James Farley, Co-Managing Editor

A lot can happen in the world of sports in 47 years. Championships are won, iconic players retire, and both joy and heartbreak transpire. For WA Boys’ Varsity Ice Hockey Head Coach Bob Carpenter, he has developed as a coach and mentor for his players.

After 27 years as the WA Boys’ Varsity Hockey coach, Carpenter was inducted into the WA Athletic Hall of Fame on Oct. 22. The nomination is awarded to someone involved in WA athletics that has truly made a difference on their team and for the school as a whole.

Hockey has been a vital aspect of Carpenter’s life for a long time, as he has coached the sport since 1975. After first receiving the news of his recognition, Carpenter was initially proud and excited to be rewarded for all of his hard work during his time coaching at WA. However, as the award ceremony neared, the idea of being inducted became closer to Carpenter’s heart.

“As it got closer to the ceremony, I started thinking back about the players that I have had the pleasure to coach,” Carpenter said. “[Then at the ceremony], my son, who coaches and teaches [at WA] introduced me, so it was way more emotional than I thought it was going to be.”

Carpenter coached at Wayland, Nashua, and Lexington High Schools prior to taking the head coaching job at WA in 1995. At the time, Carpenter was a math teacher at WA, and his family lived in town as well, so the job opportunity aligned perfectly with his life.

“Living in town and having my kids go through school here [makes] Westford a really special place for me,” Carpenter said. “I am very pleased that I was given the opportunity to coach and teach in the same building.”

When Carpenter first started as head coach, the Boys’ Hockey team was in Division 3, meaning that they faced lower-level teams, and therefore played in less competitive games. However, Carpenter immediately began scheduling more difficult opponents for his team to play, leading to WA gradually moving up to Division 2, and then eventually reaching Division 1.

“We have always wanted to compete at the highest level we possibly could, [which is one of the things] I am most proud of as a coach,” Carpenter said. “When you play at that high level, it is certainly hard to win games when you play against the top teams in the state, but our players have always wanted that challenge, so our willingness to compete at the highest level has helped us improve as a program.”

Carpenter credits part of his success as a coach to the consistent support he has received from the athletic directors and administration over the years at WA.

“Our athletic directors and Mr. Antonelli have always been involved, and with that type of incredible support, our gamble [at scheduling difficult opponents as a Division 3 team] paid off,” Carpenter said.

Over the course of his career, Carpenter has been forced to adapt his coaching techniques due to the style of hockey developing from a mainly defensive-driven mindset to one where offense is the main focus.

“I used to be much more structured in terms of playing a defensive zone, but the game has become faster, forcing us to adjust,” Carpenter said. “[We have] more involvement with the offense now. I have always been one that wanted to learn and improve as a coach, and I feel that I am still that way today.”

Carpenter’s effort to keep his team at pace with the evolving game is appreciated by his players, as it helps them to compete in the challenging DCL conference.

“Coach [Carpenter] has an extreme amount of dedication to our team and to the sport [of hockey]. He watches film professional teams down to high school teams to better our playing style,” junior captain Tyler Frazee said. “His commitment to the program and interaction with all of our players helps bring our team to the next level.”

Helping him to evolve the team’s outlook on the game is Carpenter’s son Chris Carpenter, who is an assistant coach for the team. Carpenter considers it an honor to coach alongside his son who used to play for WA himself.

“It is pretty cool to be cordial with him on the coaching staff,” Carpenter said. “It has been nice, and I love [coaching with my son by my side].”

Carpenter has brought DCL Championships for the team in 2003, 2005, and 2008, but his winning achievements are not his proudest accomplishments while coaching at WA. 

“The connections with the players and coaches mean a real lot to me,” Carpenter said. “Knowing my current and former players well is very rewarding to me.”

Setting his sights to this upcoming winter season, Carpenter is pleased with the leadership from this year’s captains, who are Frazee and seniors Ben Mulgrew, Matty Haggan, and David MacLure.

“Our captains have done a great job during the off-season, getting our guys excited about the season and working out together,” Carpenter said. “This leadership is going to pay off big for us this year.”

While Carpenter is focused on working with his players for this season, he still deeply appreciates the honor of being inducted into the WA Athletic Hall of Fame.

“[Coaching has taught me] to enjoy the moment, and it has brought me a lot of joy to coach here,” Carpenter said. “The award was a very big deal to me.”