CENTER TWP — The end of an era has come to Mars athletics.
Tim Tyler, who has coached numerous sports at various levels in the district for 50 years, retired after the end of the Planets' golf season earlier this month.
“My wife (Carol) and I will be celebrating our 42nd wedding anniversary next month,” Tyler said. “To coach as long as I did, you have to have support at home, especially from your wife. All those years, we had to schedule our vacations around when I had to be back for this sport or that sport and she was always ok with that.
“She did not bring up retirement to me. This was my decision.”
Aside from boys golf, Tyler was a head varsity coach at Mars in track and field, cross country and girls basketball. But he also coached at the junior high and junior varsity levels, including time as a wrestling mentor. Football is another sport at Mars that he contributed to.
“I always had a love of sports and had an athletic background in both high school (Moon) and college (Slippery Rock),” said Tyler. “I watched a lot of sports and did a lot of reading about them. That's how I was able to gain enough knowledge to be a coach.”
Tyler came to Mars in 1970 as a teacher at the middle school and was the first head coach of the school's varsity girls track and field program in 1973. He retired from teaching in 2006. Through it all, he benefitted from the support and guidance from a number of people, including Clem Papik (track, cross country, football), John Henicheck (track) and former athletic director Bill Thewes.
“I learned a lot about organization from them,” said Tyler. “I worked with a lot of coaches over the years and when I was head coach, I'd tell my assistants, 'This is your responsibility. Take care of it, but if you have any trouble with a kid, come to me.' That rarely happened.
“We always had great kids and I enjoyed working with them. We had a lot of fun and that's why I kept coaching.”
Tyler also formed a productive working relationship and lasting friendship with current football coach and athletic director Scott Heinauer.
“He was always supportive of me,” Tyler said. “If I was coaching a sport, Scott knew he didn't have to worry about it. We worked well together.”
Tyler still plans to dabble in athletics at Mars. A track official for years, he still plans to work the Mars Invitational every April. But he's looking forward to spending more time with his family.
“Fifty years in one place is a long time, but it was never about me,” he said. “It was about the kids.”