To those who knew him, Brian McCutchen was more than just a football coach.
He was a good coach, no question, whether on the sidelines at Marysville Pilchuck High School games or on the team’s practice field. But what mattered most to McCutchen was the kids he coached, and he cared about them not only as athletes, but as students and young men.
“He was a coach and we looked up to him,” said Jordan Hoorn, a Tomahawks senior and team captain this past season. “But most of all he was someone you could go up to and confide in. He always wanted the best for you.
“It just feels like we lost a really, really good friend,” Hoorn said.
The 44-year-old McCutchen was at his job as the office manager at Marysville’s Totem Middle School when he suddenly collapsed on Tuesday afternoon. He was taken by aid car to Everett’s Providence Regional Medical Center, and then to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.
The cause of death was determined to be a brain aneurysm.
“During the day he’d been complaining about headaches,” said Totem principal Robert Kalahan. Later in the afternoon, and after school had been dismissed for the day, “we were talking (in the office) and all of a sudden he collapsed on the floor.”
Despite the best efforts of aid crews and hospital staff, “at no time did he revive after the initial falling,” Kalahan said. “He never regained consciousness.”
McCutchen’s death, which came just 3½ weeks after the Tomahawks’ last game in the Class 3A state playoffs, shocked the student bodies at both Totem and Marysville Pilchuck, as well as the entire school district and the community at large.
“Devastating is the first word that comes to mind,” said Marysville Pilchuck head coach Brandon Carson. “It’s definitely been a rough couple of days.”
“He wasn’t just my coach, he was my best friend on the field,” said Tomahawks junior Alex Gray who, like Hoorn, was a linebacker and had McCutchen as a position coach. “He was definitely a good guy and he definitely had an effect on people.
“All he wanted for us was that we’d be just as good as possible. And not only as players. He was always saying, ‘How are you doing with grades?’ And, ‘You’re not getting in trouble, are you?’ He just cared about everybody.”
He was, Carson said, “a fantastic football coach, and he’s really going to be missed in that aspect. He truly loved coaching and he really cared for the kids, just as they really cared for him.”
McCutchen was someone “I talked to every day,” Carson added. “And not just at practice. We’d exchange phone calls and texts throughout the week. And when my phone rang in my classroom the last few days I’ve been hoping it’s him, but I know it’s not.”
Kalahan remembers how McCutchen left the banking business a few years ago to work in education. Given the salary difference between the two careers, “I asked him why, and he said (that education) is where his heart was. It was with the kids. He talked about coaching and how he loved working with the kids, and that’s what he really wanted to do was work with the families and the kids in this community.”
A memorial service for McCutchen is being planned for later this month at the high school, Carson said.