By Pete Chiodo
The end of the 2012-13 school year has also signaled the end of two long-time coaching careers in the area.
Tom Courtney resigned after 17 years as a head varsity wrestling coach, first at Conneaut Lake High School and then last year at Conneaut Area Senior High. And Paul Frazier resigned after 15 years with the Cambridge Springs baseball team, including nine as the Blue Devils’ head coach.
Frazier’s resignation was one of a few recent coaching losses at PENNCREST School District. In March, Jeremy Peterson resigned after three seasons as Maplewood’s head boys basketball coach. And in April, Laura Bullock resigned after one year as head coach of the Cambridge Springs girls volleyball team.
With Frazier and Courtney, even though they worked in two different school districts and in two different sports, their reasons for leaving were quite similar.
“I’ve been at it a long time. I just thought it was time,” said Courtney. “It’s time for somebody else to take over.”
Likewise for Frazier, “I’ve been at it quite a long time — six years as an assistant with Mr. (Jim) Dailey and nine seasons as head coach,” he said. “Fifteen years is a long time. And I thought it would be time to stop. Cambridge baseball needs to go in another direction.”
It wasn’t an easy decision for Frazier. The team has enjoyed some success over the years, but after a 1-13 campaign this past spring, he felt that the team needed a fresh start.
“I’m proud of the job I did there,” he said. “There’s more to it than just coaching baseball. It was more than just baseball for me. And I’m proud of all the lives that I think I have touched over the years.”
His days at the area diamonds might not be entirely over.
“A couple different coaches were interested to know if I could be an assistant for them,” said Frazier. “That says something good about what I’ve done that they would want me as an assistant. It’s kind of cool.”
As for Courtney, his resignation ends a coaching career that extends far beyond his 17 seasons as a head coach.
“Oh yeah, I put in a lot of time,” he said. “I started out coaching the little kids 30-some years ago, elementary school kids. I coached them at Conneaut Lake. And I taught the junior high at Cochranton for three years, and then I went back to Conneaut Lake.”
He saw the Conneaut wrestling program endure many changes during his tenure, including a jump to Class AAA from Class AA in 1999 when the school began its cooperative program with the other Conneaut School District schools. And then last year came the merger of the three Conneaut schools into one high school.
Yet, through it all the program produced some pretty good teams, like the 2003-04 French Creek Valley Conference champions and the District 10 Class AAA runner-up squad in 2006-07.
“It was good,” said Courtney. “I met a lot of people through wrestling. And I had a good time coaching.”