A decade later, retired Triton football coach still feels that ‘itch’ on Friday nights

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April 11 2021 02:00 pm

ERWIN, N.C. (WNCN) – Former Triton High School football coach Joe McCullen said he still feels the “itch” on Friday nights.

“I don’t think there’s a coach alive who won’t tell you he misses the Friday night lights,” McCullen said.

McCullen has plenty of time now to tend to his garden at his house in Erwin. He’s not too far away from planting okra as he prepares the ground. Gardening, fishing, and reading now occupy his time.

“Since I’ve retired, I’ve probably read close to 400 books,” he said.

For most of McCullen’s life, there was no time for that. But today, the long hours of coaching have now given way to a much more laid back way of life.

“I like to sleep late,” McCullen said with a laugh. “And I told somebody when I retired, I was going to take my watch off and I was going to sleep when I wanted to and eat when I wanted to, and I’ve been able to do that.

“That’s one good thing about the retirement part of it.”

McCullen can laugh about life as it is now, but in the pit of his stomach, nearly a decade removed from coaching, being away from the kids is what he misses the most.

“To see them smiling and laughing and enjoying that victory, there’s nothing like that,” he said.

That’s why McCullen chose to coach.

“I really don’t know what I’d do otherwise,” McCullen said. “Maybe farm.”

A far cry from the profession he chose.

“There’s nothing like it,” McCullen said.

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