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Newton North soccer coach dies after playing

Posted by Your Town  June 1, 2009 04:06 PM

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By Ben Terris and Milton J. Valencia

The 33-year-old boys' varsity soccer coach at Newton North High School died over the weekend, after he collapsed while playing soccer.

Ucal McKenzie, who previously coached at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, died after playing soccer at Joe Moakley Park in South Boston, friends said. He was praised Monday by school officials and fellow players.

"Ucal was a huge presence in this school. He was a doer and an unsung hero who took up any task that was put before him,'' Newton North principal Jennifer Price said in a statement.

McKenzie was the third current or former faculty member of Newton North to die in the last month.

Robert Mitchell, a Latin Teacher at Newton North, died on Wednesday. See coverage of Mr. Mitchell here and here.

Thomas DePeter, who retired after 35 years as an english teacher and drama director at Newton North, died on May 6. He had also been a lacrosse coach for Newton North, Newton South and Lincoln Sudbury, according to a death notice.

"This has been a challenging week for our community,'' Price said in a statement. "We have in place a counseling team from across Newton who will be providing support during the day in the library for staff and students.''

McKenzie was a native of Jamaica who played soccer at Suffolk University, where he graduated in 1998. He was the Head boys soccer coach at Cambridge Rindge & Latin School from 2003 to 2006, according to this biography.

Emelio Williams, a fellow coach at Valeo football club, who was on the way to watch McKenzie play on Saturday, said the loss will touch a close knit soccer community, particularly the youngsters who he had not only coached but also mentored.

"He touched a lot of kids,'' said Williams. "He was a good overall role model, just a very giving person who always went above and beyond.''

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18 comments so far...
  1. R.I.P COACH U

    Posted by jean June 1, 09 05:27 PM
  1. R.I.P. we love u

    Posted by steven Paton June 1, 09 06:26 PM
  1. Sad r.i.p coach

    Posted by tman2000 June 1, 09 06:54 PM
  1. An amazing guy who brought a wealth of talent to the newton community.

    Posted by josh June 1, 09 07:24 PM
  1. One of the classiest people I ever met and had the privilege to play on the same field with. The game and community will miss him. RIP.

    Posted by Mike Chambers June 1, 09 07:53 PM
  1. Sad to hear about anybody passing before their time - my condoleances to his family and friends.

    Posted by HBX June 1, 09 08:05 PM
  1. The Carico Football Club and Middlesex Football club will miss you. You brought a positive light to everyone you touched. Thanks for being there for all of us. We shall carry on your honor and love for the game. RIP Ucal, and our deepest sympathies to you wife Sue and your family.

    Posted by Chris Buyu June 1, 09 08:05 PM
  1. I know people always say "he was the best" when someone has died...but he truly was. He never judged the kids, he listened and then tried to show them the way to handle situations better, he understood that they were kids and needed guidance instead of lectures. He always saw the good in kids and tried to bring it out in the ones who needed it the most. The world has lost someone who made a big difference in peoples lives that he touched, the sadness of the students at NNHS is almost unbearable. God must have needed you on the other side more than we did!RIP

    Posted by D5 June 1, 09 08:09 PM
  1. RIP always going to miss you

    Posted by avery June 1, 09 08:43 PM
  1. This is so sad. Condolences to his family, may he rest in peace.

    Posted by no June 1, 09 09:15 PM
  1. One of the best coaches I ever had, He will be missed tremendously in both the Newton and Cambridge soccer communities!

    Posted by Joebillard June 1, 09 09:49 PM
  1. Ucal was a gentleman among gentlemen. I got to know him first through playing in the BSSL and then later he served as a mentor to me as I embarked on my counseling/coaching career. He kept an eye out for me and I knew I could go to him for advice. He was an inspiration to me and always willing to go the extra step to help young people. He took a great interest in some our Madison kids and really wanted to help them succeed. I always appreciated that. He will be sorely missed by the soccer and educational community around Greater Boston/Cambridge and Newton. What a star he was...

    Posted by Josh Bordes/MOA/Madison Park June 2, 09 12:48 PM
  1. Ucal...has left a gap in our hearts that cannot be filled by anyone else. Not only was he an examplary leader on the soccer field but he was a also a friend i could look upto. His loss is still a shock to me. I cant picture the Carico soccer team without him as one of the lead players....All i can say at this moment is RIP Ucal.

    Posted by Janny Macna June 2, 09 03:31 PM
  1. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends left behind.Such a tragic loss.

    Posted by Brenda Chastain June 3, 09 09:05 AM
  1. I am deeply saddened to find out of Ucal's death at a prime age. Especially dying doing what he loved the most, which was playing soccer. My condolences, thoughts and prayers for his wife, family and friends of this classiest Gentleman. I had the opportunity to play soccer alongside Ucal for 4 years and he was an amazing soccer player. He was the best teammate that I had for those four years and most importantly a GREAT HUMAN BEING. It was an honor and privilledge to play alongside him as well as to play in the same team and field with him. But, above all it was an honor to get to know him and be one of his friends. You certainly will be missed by all.

    Rest in peace my friend Ucal.

    Posted by Enivete (Tony) Araujo June 3, 09 10:00 AM
  1. ..My deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Mckenzie. I had a chance to referee a game last year that he was playing and he was absolutely tremendous on and off the field. He will be missed. R.I.P. Brother

    Posted by bardot June 3, 09 04:32 PM
  1. it's been weeks now since ucals passing and still it's like a bad dream...i'm hoping our boy is listening and seeing that we still love him and miss him greatly.

    Posted by billy/bobby mcclain June 22, 09 11:18 AM
  1. UCal was a wonderful person. My heart broke when I came across this article. Playing on the same team at Taunton Sports, I got to know a kind, gentle human being with a wonderful laugh and disposition. I am truly sorry that the world has lost such a great person.. My condolences go out to the family of UCal and heart felt sorrow to all us who new him.

    Posted by Rick Robens - Brockton High September 11, 09 06:02 PM