ESCANABA - After receiving encouragement from several people, Tim McCarthy decided to apply for the head hockey coach position at Escanaba High School.
"I've never liked putting myself in the limelight," McCarthy said Monday noon of his decision to apply.
It is a good thing McCarthy listened because he now has the job. He was appointed to the position Monday night by the school board, following a committee recommendation.
"I had former players and coaches I was with who were on me to put my name on that list, giving me a little encouragement. That gives you a little more confidence to look into it," he said.
McCarthy was an assistant coach for the Eskymos from 1988-94 and has coached at all levels of the Escanaba Area Junior Hockey Association. He was head coach of the Ness Construction team which won the state Bantam title in 2009.
John Keepers, who has been involved in the EAJHA ranks since 1987, was appointed an assistant. McCarthy said he has already talked to a couple of people who would serve as volunteer aides.
Eskymo Hockey Coaches
Coach Years Record
Earl Grandchamp 1984-88 31-53-6
Ward Johnsen 1987-97 71-131-7
Ed Gafner 1997-2002 49-68-6
Pat Goddard 2002-8 61-88-3
Ward Johnsen 2008-9 10-13-2
Charlie Elliott 2009-11 31-20-1
He said becoming head coach was never a long-time goal. "It is something that developed as the years have gone by," he said. "I've always liked helping. But so many people asked me to step up and do it (apply)."
McCarthy becomes the sixth coach in the program's history. He replaces Charlie Elliott, who was dismissed as head coach in May after two seasons.
EHS athletic director Dave Wilson, EHS principal Doug Leisenring and two members of the sport's booster group (The Blue Line Club) interviewed the two applicants and recommended McCarthy to the board.
"He has a good grasp of what goes on with the whole hockey program in general and has coached many of these kids at younger levels," said Wilson, noting several potential players for the upcoming Eskymos played for McCarthy on the state title squad.
"He has good rapport with youth hockey coaches and all the kids. He has good experience with the youth hockey program and knows how the Blue Line Club funds the program."
Wilson, a former EHS hockey player, said "we were looking for someone who would guide the program forward in a positive way with the kids' interests at mind, giving his kids the best hockey experience available. It's not about wins and losses, it is about teaching the kids through hockey about life lessons.
"Obviously winning is important, putting the kids first and making it a program for the kids and building it from there."
McCarthy, a reserve on the EHS state championship football team in 1981, works at Northern Machine and Repair. He is also involved in 4-H and was helping set up at the U.P. State Fair Monday. He and his wife Julie have two children, Meghan, 18, and Quintin, 16. Quintin was on the EHS hockey team last year before missing the end of the season with a broken leg.
Hockey has been a big part of McCarthy's upbringing. His dad, Ed, was very active in the EAJHA for many years and he played it through the junior ranks. The EHS hockey program began in 1984, after McCarthy graduated in 1983.
"It has always been an exciting sport because of the pace of the game," he said. "It has always been the tempo. Football is exciting, but you run a play and you're done. The game of hockey can changes hands so many times. It has always intrigued me, it has always kept me on the edge of the seat."
Becoming the EHS head coach has been in his thought process, but he decided not to apply for the vacancy that was filled by Elliott. "It wasn't the right time," he said, noting he was busy coaching teams for his kids.
McCarthy describes himself "as a very defensive oriented coach" and said that is something he has always been able to get from his players. "I really watch the game, I watch the players. The biggest thing is finding where everybody fits in. Not everybody plays at the same speed or has the same shot."
McCarthy, who coached the preseason high school age team last season, plans to meet with potential prospects soon.