Boston TSA officer shares joy of coaching kids

Wednesday, February 2, 2022
Officer McMahan and DL pilot McCarron photo

For Boston TSA Officer David McMahan, “protect” is a term he is all too familiar with as he protects the traveling public while on duty and teaches young hockey players how to protect “the house” while off duty.

When McMahan heard his son Colton’s under-10 hockey team, the Plymouth Whalers, needed another coach for the 2021 season, he saw it as an opportunity to not only help the team, but also spend time with his son. 

Delta Air Lines pilot Mike McCarron photo
Delta Air Lines pilot and head coach Mike McCarron delivers instructions to the team during an intermission. (Photo courtesy of SilverPeak Studios)

“I try to be an involved dad,” McMahan said. “I can skate a little, so I offered to help.”

McMahan took classes through USA Hockey and received his certification as a Level 1 USA Hockey coach and referee. He serves as the defensive and goalie coach for the Whalers.

This is McMahan’s second time coaching, and fortunately for him, he’s had the opportunity to coach both seasons alongside his son. 

“In the end, what I get out of it the most is the chance to skate around on the ice with my son during practices,” McMahan said. “If he hasn’t already, he will soon pass me in the skills and abilities. He’s already a better skater than I am. I’m still faster.”

Coaches speaking to players photo
BOS TSA Officer and hockey coach David McMahan speaks to the team goalie. (Photo courtesy of SilverPeak Studios)

McMahan is not the only one with Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) connections guiding the team. Alongside McMahan is Delta Air Lines pilot and head coach Mike McCarron.

“When we had our first coaches meeting, we all discussed what our real jobs were,” McMahan said. “We got a good chuckle from him being a pilot and me being a [TSA officer].”

Working with McCarron on the ice has led to many postgame and after practice discussions on the work they do off the ice.

As an ATLAS (Advanced Threat and Local Allocation Strategy) team member, McMahan said TSA officers often talk about the importance of sustaining positive stakeholder relations while performing insider threat functions. He said hearing a stakeholder’s viewpoint, like McCarron’s, led to his better understanding of why TSA security procedures are in place. 

McMahan’s duties at BOS include passenger screening, on-the-job training coach and certified behavior detection instructor. He believes the learning styles, teaching and communication techniques from TSA help him become a better coach for his hockey players.

“It’s a sport that teaches kids that hard work in the toughest areas leads to positive results,” McMahan said. “We talk to the kids about winning puck battles all the time. When you’re in the corner boards battling for the puck, it’s toughness, grit, and strength that win the battle. This effort-driven result leads to winning games and ultimately winning off the ice, too.”

The Whalers’ current record is 3-3-2. They recently participated in the Cape Cod Classic in Orleans, Massachusetts, where they came in third place.

“The team was bummed to be knocked out with just one loss,” McMahan said. “However, years from now, they won’t remember the loss. They’ll remember the pool parties at the hotel in the evening with pizza and chicken nuggets. They’ll remember the time the hotel manager told them they couldn’t play knee hockey in the hallway, but set the rink back up as soon as the manager cleared the hallway.”

For McMahan, coaching hockey and supporting the kids is the highlight of his week.

“I love teaching and being a part of the learning process,” he said. “Being there for the kids is what it’s really all about. To this day, I am still in contact with one of my coaches from my youth. We followed similar career paths through the fire service. She was a mentor and field training officer for me as I became a paramedic. I still call her coach.”

By Ariana Diaz, TSA Strategic Communications and Public Affairs