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By Jimmie Earls
Sun Sports Writer
St. Catharine College head basketball coach Wade O'Connor is leaving to take the position of assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C. O’Connor accumulated a 94-29 record in four seasons as Patriots head coach.
Before becoming the head basketball coach at St. Catharine, O’Connor served under Billy Donovan at Marshall University from 1994-96. He then went to the University of Dayton from 1996-2000, serving under Oliver Purnell. O’Connor followed that by becoming the recruiting coordinator for Tulane University from 2000-04.
While coaching the Patriots over the past four years, O’Connor built relationships with several four-year collegiate programs that saw former St. Catharine players join their ranks, one of those programs being Western Carolina.
O’Connor sees his time at SCC as positive and productive, serving not only as a coach to his players, but as a role model and mentor as well. Those are roles that SCC President William Huston have provided him in turn.
"I'm very thankful for the opportunity that Mr. Huston gave me four years ago, as far as mentoring me and helping me not only as a coach, or a person, but more importantly as a father. I owe him an awful lot," O'Connor said.
Western Carolina head basketball coach Larry Hunter called O'Connor on Aug. 4 to offer him the job of assistant coach, which was vacated three weeks ago by Dustin Ford, who left for an assistant coaching position with Ohio University.
"I've known Coach Hunter for about 12 years, since I was at the University of Dayton,” added O’Connor. “I trust, I respect, I believe in Coach Hunter, first and foremost as a person, and obviously as a coach. I've had other opportunities and conversations with people, but it's that comfort level with him, to be able to make that move right now, I think is the best situation for my family."
Coach O’Connor hopes to be remembered as a good person, good parent, role model and mentor, not just the head basketball coach at St. Catharine. He is most proud to see his players not only go on to Division I and Division II schools, but also develop life skills they can use after their college careers.
“I just tried to do the best I could to represent the college in a first-class manner, both on and off the court. I’m very thankful and appreciative for the opportunity," he said.
O'Connor added an emotional thank you to everyone at St. Catherine and in Washington County.
“I’m very thankful for their support of the programs, and of the college. I don’t believe in goodbyes. We’ll meet up another time, another day," he said. "It’s a special place in my heart, that’s for sure.”