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 while trying to run a successful business as the key reason for leaving.
"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. "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 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. "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 de Paul. They worked at the Thanksgiving dinner at the school. He had them working on and off the ice.... 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. "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)."
McCarthy said the dual pressure of being a head hockey coach and running a business at Northern Machine simply got to be too much, to the point that it was affecting his health.
"I'm on the road a ton with my job,"?he said. "We manage crews in Wisconsin, Lower Michigan and as far as Erie, Pa.
McCarthy wasn't sure if his assistants such as John Keepers and John Hendrickson would remain with the program.