By Keith Shelton
For The Daily News
ESCANABA - Calling it "a tough decision," Escanaba Eskymos hockey coach Tim McCarthy reluctantly handed in his resignation Wednesday.
McCarthy cited the competing demands of being a head hockey coach and simultaneously running a successful business as a key reason for leaving the program.
"It was a tough decision to make. I've been around hockey since 1988 as far as coaching goes. It's just one of those things," McCarthy said Wednesday afternoon. "I enjoyed the heck out of it but all of us have full time jobs. As the years went on, my job got a little more stressful, there was more on my plate. I guess I didn't have as much time as I felt was needed for the head coaching job."
McCarthy's resignation comes after the program compiled the best season in school history. The team went 24-4 last season and made an appearance in the regional final, falling 2-1 to Saginaw Heritage.
In two seasons as Eskymos coach, McCarthy was 37-17-1, a winning percentage of .672 which is far and away the best the program has enjoyed. He is only the second coach in team history to leave the program with a winning record. The program has an all-time mark of 291-392-32.
However, as athletic director Dave Wilson said, coaching the team was more than just wins and losses.
"Tim McCarthy is the best hockey coach we've ever had in the history of the program," he said Wednesday. "You look at what the school district wanted him to do, take care of the kids, he did it better than anyone. You have to realize it was about more than winning and losing, but taking care of kids.
"He was exactly what an athletic administrator wants. Making kids accountable for academics, and in the community - at Christmas they worked with St. Vincent DePaul. They worked at the Thanksgiving dinner at the school. He had them working on and off the ice. It will be difficult to replace that. It's a sad day for Eskymo hockey."
McCarthy was satisfied with what he had accomplished with the program in a short amount of time.
"It's a good team and I see nothing but good things for them in the future," he said. "Dave Wilson got a lot of calls from teams in lower Michigan that want to play us. We had a respectable showing in the Michigan Public School Showcase (The team went 3-0) and the kids earned a lot of respect We also have Houghton and Hancock joining the Great Lakes Conference and that's huge. Now you are guaranteed 16 games of great competition.
"There's a real young team to build on, having only lost four players (to graduation). I really enjoyed my time there and the time I spent with the kids. It was really a joy, and coming out of the year we did, it was great for the program."