Gold Medal Hoopster Andy McGuffin '51
Andy McGuffin '51 would be an impressive athlete at half his age. by Alex Meril ’07
A mile-long walk in the neighborhood, 50 push-ups, basketball practice at the local YMCA, a five-mile bicycle ride, and 200 sit-ups before bed may seem like an extraordinary exercise regimen for even the most hardened athlete, but for 82-year-old Andrew (Andy) McGuffin ’51, it’s just an ordinary day’s workout.
Now a retiree living in Umatilla, Florida, with his wife, Maryellen, Andy was named Male Athlete of the Year at the 2005 Florida Sports Foundation state championship. He made 29 of 30 shots, winning the gold medal in the basketball free-throw division for the 80–84 age category. In 10 Florida Senior Games championships since 1995 Andy has completed 282 of 300 free-throw attempts, earning a 94-percent accuracy mark. He once sank a remarkable 400 consecutive free throws.
“I’ve always been very disciplined,” says Andy. “When I compete in any type of activity or sport I want to win. If I lose I will go out and work harder so I won’t lose the next time.”
Andy has always exhibited that type of drive, beginning as a child in Glens Falls, New York, where he was involved in athletics ranging from swimming to football. After high school Andy served with the U.S. Navy on the U.S.S. Essex aircraft carrier during World War II. He returned home at the end of the war to earn his bachelor of science degree in physical education from Ithaca College.
“I had to take a couple of courses before Ithaca College would accept me,” says Andy. “Most of the men at Ithaca with me were war veterans going to school under the G.I. Bill.”
He thoroughly enjoyed his time at IC in its downtown days, making many friends and participating in varsity basketball, baseball, soccer, and cross country. He was also a member of the Delta Kappa fraternity. “I took a dance class at a candy store in downtown Ithaca,” Andy recalls. “Now you have a beautiful campus.”
After graduating Andy coached boys’ wrestling at his high school alma mater’s rival school, South Glens Falls High. Andy channeled the work ethic he has for his personal athletics into coaching the team, leading them to a 104–4 record. “I had 10 years in our conference, and we were never beaten,” says Andy. “Even when I’m coaching, I hate to lose. They were great kids, and we worked really hard to win.”
In 1983 Andy moved to Lake County, Florida, where he became superintendent of an apartment building. He kept that job until he retired in 1990. In 1995 he was named to the New York High School Section II Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Today Andy is a point guard for the traveling Magic Seniors 3-on-3, a basketball team he has played with for 14 years. In June he and his teammates will travel to Louisville, Kentucky, to play in the nationals. While Andy is noted as a star within his peer group, he says his success in free throwing is due to his “old school” method of shooting, a style long forgotten in today’s NBA. “I still shoot how they taught you in the olden days, with a two-handed shot,” Andy says. “When I was in high school everyone shot with two hands. Today everyone shoots with one.”
Although his first passion is sports, Andy also loves hunting, a pastime he participates in once a year when he travels home to upstate New York with a group of close friends. In recent years Andy has endured two knee replacement surgeries and often responds to the doubts of friends and family, who ask why he still competes so tirelessly at his age.
“I will keep competing as long as my body permits,” says Andy. “And maybe in the process, I’ll live a little bit longer.”