Story by Andy Lyons, News Editor
One of the many faces associated with University of Central Missouri Athletics is that of coach John Culp.
He’s been a face in the Warrensburg community for nearly 15 years as a teacher, principal and coach.
Culp is a graduate of UCM and was a teacher, coach and administrator in the Warrensburg R-VI School District prior to his retirement.
Since 2006, he has served UCM as program development and retention coordinator for UCM athletics. He also served as a member of the Warrensburg City Council, president of the Warrensburg Lions Club and in a variety of leadership roles with the First United Methodist Church of Warrensburg.
He has been recognized with the Distinguished Service Award by the Missouri Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, and has served as a member of the UCM Alumni Association board of directors.
Culp has been an athletic counselor annually at Missouri Boys State on the UCM campus, and has served as a member of the City of Warrensburg Children’s Memorial committee.
He and his wife, Sandy, have been strong advocates for legislation enabling assistance for treatment of eating disorders in Missouri, following the death of their daughter, Laura, in May 2009, due to anorexia.
Despite the adversity he has faced in his personal life, Culp has maintained a positive attitude and outlook on life.
“My mother always said ‘it’s better to wear out than rust out,’” he said.
Beth Rutt, director of student activities at UCM, has known Culp for nearly 30 years. She said that after visiting with him, people tend to be more optimistic about life.
“He really just values human life and relationships,” Rutt said. “He really walks the talk [when it comes to genuinely caring about others].”
Rutt said that Culp would never intentionally offend anyone he encountered and really focuses on building people up. She has maintained her friendship with Culp through the loss of his daughter and through his wife being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010.
“Despite the adversity and challenges in his professional and personal life, he still has hope,” Rutt said.
Ed Wirthwein, assistant director of the Union at UCM, has known Culp for 18 years, and is an adviser for the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity at UCM, along with Culp. He said he agrees with Rutt that Culp is the type of person that doesn’t let his personal life affect maintaining a positive influence on young people.
“He’s always optimistic,” Wirthwein said. “If he knows it’ll help someone, he’ll sacrifice it. He’s the ultimate role-model and father figure, and he has no self-pity. What gets him through is seeing those around him succeed.”