By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
Randy Culp is headed to greener pastures.
Familiar pastures, too.
After seven years as Shoemaker's head baseball coach, Culp announced that he has transferred to Ellison to be an assistant baseball and football coach at his alma mater.
"I think everybody always wants a chance to go back and coach where they graduated from and I'm excited to be over there and have a new beginning," Culp said. "It's kind of bittersweet because I'm really going to miss my boys over there (at Shoemaker). ... It's tough. Shoemaker's all I've known coming from college. It was a tough decision."
The move, which Culp said is not meant to replace current Eagles head baseball coach Kyle Allred, was finalized Monday.
"I think anybody that knows me knows that I don't have an ego or I'm not a title person," Culp said of going from being a head coach to an assistant. "I'm excited to go there and help (in football) and help Ellison get to the playoffs in baseball.
"That's my focus and I'm excited to work with coach Allred over there and bring some things to the table. I think we're going to have a good working relationship."
Culp, who graduated from Ellison in 1993, went 26-156 in his seven years as the Grey Wolves' head coach with just three district wins, all coming since 2008.
Allred sees Culp's experience as a player and a coach in the area as a plus to the Eagles' baseball program.
"He knows Ellison, which is a big bonus, but at the same time, having coached in this district for the years he has, is definitely going to help," Allred said. "Basically, we have two sets of eyes now. ... I think it's a big plus for our baseball program, that's for sure."
Culp's transfer comes less than two week after longtime Shoemaker football coach/campus athletic coordinator Ken Gray retired. Culp, like Gray, had been at Shoemaker since the school opened in 2000 and Culp said Gray's retirement on June 9 figured heavily into his decision.
"Coach Gray was a father figure to a lot of those kids, but he was also a father figure to me and lot of us young coaches that started underneath him," Culp said. "It just changes your whole perspective when he's not in the picture anymore.
"I had 11 years there, good years. I never dreamed that I would leave. This is just the business that we're in. With coach Gray retiring, it just changed a lot of things."
Culp was hired by Gray in 2000 and served as an assistant to former Shoemaker baseball coach Todd Gawryszewski before taking over the program after the 2004 season.
Culp was drafted in the 13th round (370th overall pick) in the 1993 Major League Baseball amateur draft and spent four years in the Montreal Expos' system.
"Having played in the levels that he's played, he can help our kids drastically - because he's been there," Allred said of Culp.
"He's seen it, he knows what they may be feeling, he knows the frustrations or the ups and downs. So having that playing experience is huge, and then being in the minor leagues and having that experience, he's going to know the little technical points that are really going to help our kids."
Culp said he was contacted by Ellison campus athletic coordinator Buddy McBryde shortly after Gray announced his retirement.
"There was a baseball/football job (open) and he knows that I was from there, so he called me and asked me if I was interested," Culp said. "There's a lot of unknown out there at Shoemaker. ... You just never know how it's going to play out when a new guys comes in."
Without a promise of becoming the next Ellison head coach, Culp took the stable opportunity to coach on the same field where he starred as a three-year letterman.
"Right now, I'm just going to go over and do the best I can to help out both football and baseball, and enjoy being back at my alma mater. If that's (being a head coach in the future) in the works, that's in the works," Culp said, "but, right now, all I'm concerned with is how can I help athletics over there and bring my knowledge to the table."
Alex Byington contributed to this report.