Tom Ferrell never saw this coming.
A former Fauquier High head football coach, Ferrell received notice in January that he had been selected for induction into the McDowell County (West Virginia) Sports Hall of Fame.
“It was quite a humbling experience,” he said of the surprise notification. “I was pretty much in shock.”
Ferrell, 73, was a member of the 1963 unbeaten Welch High football team before joining the Air Force for four years. He later earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees before embarking on a 40-year career coaching high school athletes at Bluefield (West Virginia), Fauquier and Liberty high schools.
He attended the June 1 Hall of Fame ceremony in Welch along with six other inductees, who were honored in front of approximately 200 people.
“It’s quite an honor because my high school coach is 94 years old, and he made a special trip just to be there,” said a grateful Ferrell. “It was very special.”
McDowell County is split into four sections with nominations coming from each area, Ferrell said. A committee then culls that year’s list by looking at achievements and statistics, he said, and the membership includes several professional athletes, multiple collegiate and high school coaches, and some of his former teammates and players.
“I really had not thought of my career in that context,” he said. “When I did look back on it, I did have a lot of accomplishments.
“But there are so many people who deserve as much credit as I did,” Ferrell said about the contributions of many assistant coaches and players.
Ferrell was Bluefield’s head baseball coach from 1973 to 1986, compiling a record of 155-117. The Beavers captured three sectional titles, won one regional championship and advanced to the state semifinals. His 1977 team won the Coppinger Invitational championship, and Ferrell was named Baseball Coach of the Year in 1982.
Ferrell also was an assistant football coach and defensive coordinator for Bluefield during that span under head coach John Chmara. Bluefield won Class AAA state football titles in 1975 and 1984.
Ferrell then followed him to Virginia when Chmara became Fauquier’s head football and athletic director in 1987-88. Ferrell served as defensive coordinator and senior assistant for eight seasons. Fauquier went 57-34, won three straight regional titles and earned state playoff berths, 1987-89.
In 1993, Chmara retired from coaching and Ferrell stepped into the head job. Ferrell compiled a 61-55 record in 11 seasons and guided the Falcons to three district titles and a pair of Region II championships. His 61 career victories remain the most by any Fauquier football coach, and he remains the last Falcons football coach to beat Liberty in a Bird Bowl and the last to win a playoff game, both in 2002.
Ferrell was named “More Than Sports Coach of the Year” in 1994 by a Culpeper radio station and was voted as Northwestern District Coach of the Year in 1995, 1997 and 2002. The Washington Post named him regional Coach of the Year in 1997.
“I had great assistant coaches,” Ferrell said. “And Allen Creasy as an athletic director was incredible. I was so lucky.”
Ferrell also served as Fauquier’s head baseball coach for two seasons and as assistant for two others. The grind of head coaching duties and a desire to spend more time with his family led Ferrell to step down after the 2005 football season, but his free time was short lived because he took a job with Liberty the next year as a line coach.
Tommy Buzzo, then Liberty’s head coach, had played for Ferrell at Bluefield. So Buzzo contacted Ferrell, who was on vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Ferrell needed little time to say yes.
“Really it came out of left field," Ferrell told The Post. "But from there things just happened so fast. I talked to [wife] Gayle, and she was all for it.
“So I told Coach Buzzo it was an offer that really appealed to me,” he said. “I'm glad not to have all of the head coach responsibilities anymore. But I guess I wasn't quite ready to give it up.
“My retirement lasted about 10 days,” Ferrell said.