GAINESVILLE — Tim ‘Sticks’ McMullen was a fixture at Letchworth High School for quite some time, patrolling the hallways and sidelines in Gainesville as a head coach, physical education teacher and then athletic director for over three decades.

And even though he’s been retired for 10 years, the accolades are still rolling in.

Already in the Section V Football Hall of Fame, McMullen is set to head into the Section V Basketball Hall of Fame later this year.

“I wrote it off. I didn’t even think about it,” McMullen said. “Championship-wise we didn’t do a lot of stuff. A lot of times it’s, sort of, predicated on that. But the committee got together and young Eddie Stores called me a month or two ago and gave me the news. I was ecstatic. There are so many people that sweat and bled with me for a lot of the years at Letchworth, and even around the county. The LCAA had a lot of great mentors that became great friends that I mirrored and they mentored me in a lot of ways. It was a surprise and it’s really an honor.”

McMullen was the head coach of the varsity boys basketball team at Letchworth for 31 years and is up there in terms of the top winningest coaches in Section V history, posting 334 career victories. McMullen was a four-time Section V Coach of the Year — winning in 1994, 1998, 1999 and 2006 — and led Letchworth to the Section V Class CCC title in 1999

However, it wasn’t the wins or anything of the like that McMullen will take from his time on the sidelines, both as a basketball coach and a football coach.

“We didn’t raise a lot of trophies, but you don’t need to raise a trophy to be a champion,” McMullen said. “Every day in the pits, that was special. We loved going to practice every day. We loved getting up early to get in the weight room, or stay late to get a few extra shots up. Obviously, we won a sectional title in ‘99 and that was a special group of athletes that came together and bonded well and a special group of parents. Not a whole lot of championships, so to speak, but we had a lot of champion people that were involved every day.”

Despite the lack of titles, McMullen does find himself among the best of the best that the Livingston County Athletic Association has had to offer on the basketball court.

McMullen is one of only five LCAA boys basketball coaches to reach the 300-victory mark for his career, holding the honor with Tom Downey of Livonia, Dave Gillett of Perry, Tom Flood of Honeoye Falls-Lima and, most recently, Dan Dickens of Caledonia-Mumford. Meanwhile, he also got to coach against, and learn from, the legendary Tom LaDelfa of Warsaw.

Quite the company to keep, in terms of basketball coaches in the GLOW region. And McMullen remembers it all as though it was yesterday.

“You remember things as a coach, the games and you still have great relationships — with the coaches that were with me that are still my best friends at Letchworth and around the league,” he said. “And my players, a lot of them are doing well in life and in their work. And as a pastor, I’m helping them out in their weddings, baptisms and things. You never really separate from it, it’s always a part of your demeanor and your being.”

Since retiring from coaching, including stints coaching alongside his son, Corky, as well as years on the sidelines at the Rochester Institute of Technology as an assistant, McMullen has since devoted his life to his religion, even officiating former players’ weddings and conducting baptisms, a few more of which he has coming up in the next few months.

And that is where he says the memories remain from his time at Letchworth. Seeing former co-coaches and players to this day and seeing the positive impact that he was able to have on them, not just in athletics, but in life.

“That’s really what it’s about, just growing together,” McMullen said. “Sometimes it’s banging your head against a wall but most of the time it’s such a special feeling in the pits with everyone. Those daily practices, those long weeks and weekends, the offseasons, the weight room, you always go back to that. That’s where we grow.”

Despite being away from the game for several years, McMullen doesn’t hesitate to express his belief that his style of coaching would still be adaptable today. When you played Letchworth, you knew what you were getting into — a rough-and-tumble game that would take a full 32 minutes to win.

“I think I would adapt. Honestly, the kids really don’t change,” McMullen said. “Some people believe that the kids have changed but I really don’t believe so. Human nature has been intact for thousands and thousands of years and that’s the same. And yeah, you have to adapt, maybe, your coaching style a little bit, maybe. A lot of people have told me it’s more difficult in a lot of ways, but that is the challenge, to unify a group of young men or women through athletics and through academics. It’s challenging but it can be done. And when you put good people around you that care for the kids great things are going to happen no matter what.”

Along with his success as a head coach on the hardwoord, McMullen was also head football coach at Letchworth for 12 years, leading the Indians to three Section V titles — in 2009, 2010 and 2011 — and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D title in 2011, the same year he earned NYS Coach of the Year honors. Letchworth’s ‘11 state championship football team is considered to be one of the best to ever come out of the Livingston Conference.

McMullen was inducted into the Section V Football Hall of Fame in 2014 and he says that he could never have done it alone.

“There’s 11 communities there that all had to come together and the school does that for all those communities,” he said of Letchworth. “They all have their own identity, they all have their own prides and to unify that through the central school district takes a lot of people and a lot of work places. Everybody from the custodians, to the teachers, to the coaching staffs, to the administration, of course. It’s pretty special.”

A native of Le Roy, McMullen graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Ithaca College in 1979 and went on to earn a Master’s Degree in education from SUNY Geneseo.

And regardless of the accolades, McMullen hopes he left just one thing at Letchworth.

“I hope there’s a unity there that we improved on,” he said. “Every business person, teacher, principal, administrator, coach wants to leave what they were part of better than when they walked in the door. So we always prided ourselves on ‘we’re going to make it better, we’re going to get better every day, we’re going to get one percent better every day. We’re going to do that every day.’ If we had done that in any respect then that’s a good feeling for us as a staff.”

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