Cullen resigns as WHS baseball coach


MASON, W.Va. — All good things must come to an end.

After 38 seasons with the Wahama baseball program, Tom Cullen has decided to step down as head baseball coach after 13 years of service.

Cullen — who has been a coach on all four of the White Falcons’ state championships — notified the school earlier in the week of his decision, one that he took a great deal of time to consider before making his final announcement.

Cullen, who amassed almost 250 wins as head skipper at WHS, led the Red and White to back-to-back Class A state titles in 2015 and 2016. He also served as an assistant coach on the 1996 and 1998 championship winning squads.

Serving as an assistant from 1980 before getting the head coaching gig midway through the 2004 campaign, Cullen guided the White Falcons to eight straight regional appearances while capping those final two seasons with state championships.

That streak of regional appearances ended last spring after being eliminated by eventual state runner-up Ravenswood in the sectional finals.

Cullen was named as the All-USA West Virginia Coach of the Year for baseball in both 2015 and 2016, and was later honored as the National Federation of State High School Associations’ West Virginia Coach of the Year for 2016.

Cullen was also tabbed as the Mideast Sectional Coach of the Year in 2016, which includes Delaware, Washington, D.C., Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia within that region.

Cullen, who also led Wahama to four TVC Hocking championships during seven years in the league, said this decision wasn’t the easiest to make … but he knew that it was time for a change.

“My passion for the game is still there, but my body just isn’t holding up the way it used to. My arm hurts for a week when I throw batting practice and I’ve already had a hip replacement. I just hurt more and don’t sleep as well as I used to, and I cannot just sit back and watch other people do things that I should be doing to help get the team prepared,” Cullen said. “If I can’t get out there and do the things that I need to make the kids better, then I’d just rather step aside because I’m not one to take and hands off approach.

“You know, the Bend Area has been big on baseball for many years. I’ve met a lot of great people and coached a lot of great young men for a long time at Wahama. It’s been a great run and I’m really proud of what we have managed to do over almost four decades, but you just know when it’s time to step away. For me, that time is now.”

Cullen — who was also part of Wahama’s 2012 Class A football title — is still serving as offensive coordinator for the WHS gridiron team, but he admits that he doesn’t really know what his coaching plans are beyond this fall.

Baseball, however, has always been his number one passion — and he does feel extremely fortunate to have been involved in so many successes within the White Falcon program.

Nonetheless, for all of the achievements — he still cannot help but ponder what might have been over almost four decades of effort.

Then again, as the venerable mentor noted, it’s those failures that make the successes that much sweeter.

“I’m very proud to have been part of those four state title teams, but the thing that still bothers me is how many more we might have been able to get,” Cullen said. “We’ve had some really good teams at Wahama that didn’t win state for one reason or another, but you have to have a little bit of luck along the way. Obviously, luck wasn’t always on our side.

“I can think of a lot of deserving players that have come through our system that deserved to experience winning a state championship. In a lot of ways, I still to this day feel like I let them down. It also makes you appreciate how much those four state title teams went through to get where they ended up.”

With an entire professional career dedicated to the betterment of the Bend Area, Cullen believes that the next head baseball coach at Wahama should know a few very important things about the job.

More than anything, he feels that his successor should realize that he is coming to a good baseball area.

“I think the program will do well because there is a lot of interest in baseball up there. The numbers are good and you have have kids playing to be successful,” Cullen said. “Whoever the next coach is should know that they have kids that will play hard and work for you. You might have to keep them focused a little bit, but you will have all the help and support you need from the community to be successful. Over all of these years, there has always been support for this program.”

Cullen also wanted to send a note of personal gratitude to the people that have allowed him to do a dream job since Jimmy Carter served as President of the United States.

“I just want to thank everybody in the Wahama area for allowing me to do this job over the last 38 years,” Cullen said. “They took a chance on a young kid out of college and I’d like to think that it worked out well over time. I’ve really enjoyed the experiences I’ve encountered with that program.”

.neFileBlock {
margin-bottom: 20px;
}
.neFileBlock p {
margin: 0px 0px 0px 0px;
}
.neFileBlock .neFile {
border-bottom: 1px dotted #aaa;
padding-bottom: 5px;
padding-top: 10px;
}
.neFileBlock .neCaption {
font-size: 85%;
}

Longtime Wahama baseball coach Tom Cullen, second from left, looks on with his coaching staff during the 2015 Class A state championship final against Man at Appalachian Power Park on Saturday, June 10, 2015, in Charleston, W.Va.
http://www.mydailytribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/42/2017/08/web1_8.19-WAH-Staff.jpgLongtime Wahama baseball coach Tom Cullen, second from left, looks on with his coaching staff during the 2015 Class A state championship final against Man at Appalachian Power Park on Saturday, June 10, 2015, in Charleston, W.Va. Bryan Walters|OVP Sports

By Bryan Walters

bwalters@aimmediamidwest.com

Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.