SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — After a career that included 31 seasons, 245 victories, 14 coaching honors and 19 conference championships, longtime Shepherd University football coach Monte Cater announced his retirement in January. On Friday night, current and past members of Rams Nation gathered at the Clarion Hotel in Shepherdstown to honor Cater with a retirement dinner.
Cater, who is moving away from the coaching profession after a total of 37 years, said after making his announcement more than two months ago, the feeling of being retired is still strange to him.
“Well, its tough to get away from everybody and you’re not involved in it for the first time,” said Cater. “It’s really different so I’m having some withdraw pains right now.”
Former WVU head coach, College Football Hall of Fame member, Don Nehlen spoke at the ceremony. Nehlen has been retired from coaching for 18 years and he applauded Cater’s longevity.
“A coach that coaches five or six years and wins a lot of games, is not a great coach,” said Nehlen. “But a guy that coached 37 years and won a lot of games, then he’s a great coach.”
Shepherdstown Mayor Jim Auxer, who is recovering from a recent heart attack, was also in attendance. He said Cater has been a tremendous part in building the Shepherd brand nationally.
“Football is the front porch of Shepherd University and he has made it an even bigger porch,” Auxer said. “We are glad that every one is here to honor him and he deserves that.
Auxer said he also believes that the football program will be in good hands going forward with new head coach Ernie McCook who has been on Cater’s staff for almost 20 years.
“Coach McCook has been here awhile. We have a lot of the same coaches and we are just carrying the tradition on. So, it will be wonderful,” said Auxer.
Shepherd Vice President of Athletics, Chauncey Winbush, also launched the Shepherd University Athletic Club at the event. He said the new fundraising effort will serve all 12 varsity sports teams at the University.
“The Shepherd University Athletic Club is going to bring all of those groups together under the umbrella so that, there’s one clear message under a fundraising standpoint,” according to Winbush.
Cater said he never thought about the end of his career when he first signed on to coach the Rams in 1986.
“Really, you don’t think about that. You just hope that you don’t get fired,” Cater joked.
Cater will be recognized again Saturday at Rams Stadium during Shepherd’s spring football game.
WEPM Radio Reporter Elias McMillian filed this report.