Photo by Hunter Franklin ’19 | Mr. Tom Succow instructs his team during batting practice Feb. 15. Succow is coaching his final season of a 40 year baseball coaching career at Brophy.
By Jack Davis ’19
Mr. Tom Succow has been a fixture at Brophy for four decades, impacting students’ lives as a college counselor, an English teacher and the head varsity baseball coach.
Under Mr. Succow’s guidance, Brophy’s baseball team has been to three state championships. The Broncos captured one title in 2006, the single crown baseball banner that hangs from the wall of Robson gymnasium.
Mr. Succow will retire after the 2016-17 school year, and thus will leave a unique impression on Brophy’s campus as a whole.
“I came here in the fall of 1975, and I was 23 years of age,” he said. “I’m leaving at age 66. I’ve literally grown up here.”
Mr. Succow said that he has learned to become a responsible person, a better husband and a good father because of Brophy’s influence in his life.
Mr. Succow said that the biggest thing he’ll miss about Brophy is the friendships he has formed over the years.
“I’ll miss the relationships, no question about it …,” Mr. Succow said. “I’m going to miss the faculty, I’m going to miss my counseling colleagues desperately.”
“And, I’m going to miss walking out to that baseball field every day because that’s been a part of my life for 42 years,” he added. “I was an assistant my first two years here. That last walk out there and the last walk off that field are going to be certainly emotional for me.”
Mr. Succow said that he still maintains connections with a great amount of his former players.
“I can’t say that every player that’s played for me that I’m friends with or that I maintain some sort of connection or relationship with, but I try to do that because that’s the reason I’m in coaching,” Mr. Succow said. “I love to win, and I think winning is very important, but I think that on the high school level it is secondary to guiding young men, having young men make good decisions, be responsible for their actions, have them be accountable for what they do and to constantly guide them as best as I possibly can.”
One recent player that Mr. Succow is still in touch with is Ryan Castellani ’14, a pitcher in the Colorado Rockies’ farm system.
“He’s probably one of the biggest reasons why I’m here where I am today,” Castellani said. “He gave me a chance my sophomore year to play and it just kind of took off from there. Our relationship grew, we’re still really close today.”
Castellani said that Mr. Succow’s greatest attribute is his kindness.
“He cares about everybody,” he said. “The biggest thing is that he didn’t make baseball the No. 1 priority. He cared about the entire person that you are, about school, grades, family, friends, just everything away from the field. He really prepared you for college as well … he just had such a big heart.”
“He just took me under his wing,” Castellani added. “He was my favorite person on that campus and my biggest mentor. He just always knew how to handle me at my worst and at my best. He really cared about making me a better person and preparing me for the world.”
Mr. Pete Burr ’07, who pitched for Brophy from 2006 to 2007, said that Mr. Succow set a standard of excellence for any coach and mentor.
“Now, being a coach and realizing how much I was absorbing without even knowing it as a player, I’ve just come to appreciate how well rounded he was,” Mr. Burr said. “He’s a very intelligent baseball coach, but I think he cares even more about his players. That was a big portion of my Brophy experience, [it] was playing baseball and having coach Succow care for me on such a personal level.”
In January of 2012, Mr. Succow found out that he was diagnosed with cancer.
“I think that it made me realize how important every day is,” he said. “I was able to put off surgery until June of 2012. I did tell my oncologist and surgeon that I wanted to coach the season, because I didn’t know if I was going to be able to coach after that or not.”
That year, in 2012, Brophy battled all the way to the state championship game and lost to Chaparral High School in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“Having Brophy as a foundation, having the school to come to every day and the department members up here to lean on was huge,” he said. “I think that, obviously, my family was extremely supportive … having this place to come to every day gives you a sense of purpose, that there’s a lot to life.”
“It was a little shocking to me at first when I found out, but there are a lot of other people that go through worse things than I did,” Mr. Succow added.
Mr. Succow said that he finds a great deal of encouragement in the Rev. Harry “Dutch” Olivier.
“His pureness, his gentleness, the way he approached every person on this campus—they were important to him, I think is a lesson for all of us who encountered Fr. Olivier,” he said. “Everybody’s life matters. It has a source of importance in the growth in each and every one of us. He was, he has been, will always be a ‘saint’ in my eyes.”
“I think that one of the proudest moments, where I felt most honored was being asked to be a pallbearer at his funeral,” he added. “That was very touching to me.”
Mr. Burr said that in his transition from student to colleague, his perspective on Mr. Succow hasn’t changed at all.
“My respect for him, if anything, has grown,” he said. “He’s been doing the same thing and doing it very well for a long time. That, I think, is admirable on so many levels. So, I guess, just getting to know him better on a personal level as an adult as opposed to a student has really just been a gift.”
“That’s the biggest compliment, that not much has changed,” Mr. Burr added. “He’s the same quality guy he was when I was a player as he is when he’s a co worker or when I’m coaching the same sport as him in the program.”
Fred Erlandson ’15, who pitches for Santa Clara, said in an email to The Roundup that Mr. Succow’s patience was very formative in his development as a player.
“He was a great coach in that he was patient and understanding of his players,” Erlandson said. “He wanted to see his players do their best so he pushed us to compete.”
“More importantly, I think he taught us that baseball is just a game and to have fun,” Erlandson added. “He wanted us to act like men, so he taught us to how to go about our business in the right way by respecting each other, being great teammates, and loving the game as a player and person.”
Mr. Burr said that he’ll miss the stability that Mr. Succow brought to Brophy’s baseball program.
“I know the new head coach is going to be outstanding too, but you just knew what you were getting with coach Succow,” Mr. Burr said. “There was never any high highs, never any low lows. He was a wonderful, consistent coach that set standards, and you knew what they were.”
“And he was wonderful to play for because you knew exactly what he demanded of you and it never changed,” he added. “You never had to ask, ‘What would coach Succow think about this?’ … it was so clear and obvious because of the way he carried himself and cared for the sport and his players.”
Mr. Succow said that he plans to move to Prescott with his wife and spend some time traveling and visiting his two daughters and five grandchildren.
“But, I’m going to continue coaching baseball also,” he said. “I’ve been offered an assistant’s position at Yavapai College in Prescott, which is a junior community college. I look forward to being assistant there.”
Mr. Succow said that, over the course of his time at Brophy, he’s learned that staying busy is a necessity.
“I’ve learned the lesson that you need to stay active,” Mr. Succow said. “I’m going to tend to try to be as active as I possibly can in the future, not just stay stagnant. I just think it’s healthy for the mind, healthy for the body, to stay younger at heart. I’m looking forward to that.”