Mary McCullick started coaching high school athletics 25 years ago in Monterey. She’s coached volleyball, basketball and the past 14 years she’s served as the boys and girls tennis coach at Atwater High.
McCullick, 64, says her time working with high school students has been rewarding.
“It’s been a tremendous blessing for me to work with young people,” McCullick said.
McCullick was named one of the six Sac-Joaquin Section Model Coach Award winners this week. The award honors coaches who are positive role models in the school and community.
The other five coaches honored in the section are Fred Jones of Vacaville, Mike Lee of Bella Vista, Sarah McLaughlin of Rodriguez, Linda Merrida of Pioneer and Steve White of Oak Ridge.
All six coaches will receive a a plaque and a lifetime Sac-Joaquin Section pass at an awards banquet on May 1 in Lodi.
McCullick is the fifth coach to earn the honor from Merced County in the last three years. Merced’s Rob Scheidt, Los Banos’ Lynn Barcello and Hilmar’s Catherine Mendes were named Model Coaches last year. Golden Valley’s Matt Thissen earned the honor in 2016.
“We looked at the criteria for the Model Coach Award, with the pursuing victory with honor, and all the criteria and supporting athletes describes Mary completely,” said Atwater athletic director Scott Wine. “It was a no-brainer to nominate her.”
McCullick said she was amazed when she found out.
“It’s definitely an honor,” she said. “I think it’s interesting working with student athletes because everybody is different. Everybody learns different and they have different abilities. I try to find each students’ strength and build on that and strengthen their weaknesses.”
McCullick has been a walk-on coach for Atwater the past 14 years. She has also volunteered at the Alpha Pregnancy Center for the past 17 years and helps run a home for children living on the streets.
“She’s here every day, all day supporting our students academically and athletically,” Wine said. “For her, it’s not we’ll see you later at the end of the season. She works with the kids all year long. For a walk-on coach, that’s not easy to do. She treats it like a full-time job and we appreciate that.”