By Terry Toohey, Delaware County Daily Times
June 06, 2010
Head coach Bob Shull died Friday from complications following a brief bout with leukemia. He was 37.
“It’s beyond words,” said Marple Newtown coach Ray Gionta, who was Shull’s high school coach at St. James in the early 1990s. “It happened so fast.”
Shull was diagnosed with leukemia less that two weeks ago, according to Gionta and Shull’s longtime friend and fellow coach Jim McCrea.
“I’m at a loss for words,” said McCrea, who signed on to be Shull’s offensive coordinator at Chichester. “I don’t know what to say. It’s horrible.”
Shull was hired in February to take over a Chichester program that has won one game in the last two years. It was his first head coaching position after serving as an assistant at Marple Newtown (1999-2002), Chichester (2003-2004) and Springfield (2005-2007).
Shull made an impact at Chichester, even though he was on the job for less that three months.
“He was like the Pied Piper,” McCrae said. “Everyone wanted to be around him.”
McCrae remembered a time when he went to see Shull when Shull was an assistant at Springfield. McCrae noticed that there were six players from Chichester at the game, too.
“I asked them, ‘What are you guys doing here,’” McCrae said. “They said, ‘We’re here to see Coach Shull.’ That’s the kind of impact Bobby had. Nobody was harder on his players than Bobby, but they loved him because they knew he cared. For me, seeing those six kids from Chi at a Springfield game to see Bobby was better than the Super Bowl. It showed me the kind of man Bobby was.”
It is why McCrae agreed to join Shull when Shull was awarded the job at Chichester.
“At first, I thought he was nuts, but deep down I knew Bobby was the right man for the job,” McCrae said.
“There’s no doubt in my mind Bobby was going to turn that program around,” said Springfield coach Dan Ellis, who befriended Shull several years ago. “I talked to him when I got the job at Springfield. He wanted to talk about the philosophy of coaching, the reason you get into coaching and what your goals for the kids are, not Xs and Os. What I thought was going to be an hour ended up being 41/2 hours. But that’s why I know he was going to turn the program around because he got into coaching for all the right reasons.”
Shull got into coaching after a stellar collegiate career where he earned Division III All-America honors at perennial power Lycoming. Before that, he was an All-Delco and all-state linebacker as a senior at St. James in 1990.
“There was a lot of turmoil with the program when Ray Gionta took over,” said longtime friend and former teammate Scott Green, who was named head football coach at Kennett High School about the same time Shull got the job at Chi. “A lot of guys were upset that Marty Moke was let go and that first year was pretty rough.
“The next year, Ray decided to name Bobby as the only captain and it was the right move because I really believe that Bobby Shull is the reason the program turned around. He set the standard and we followed it.”
Shull carried that same character into adulthood.
“He grew into a great young man and a terrific father, someone who touched a lot of lives and was on the verge to touch a lot more,” Gionta said. “It’s a shame. He’s really going to be missed.”