The community is invited to a Service of Prayer and Light for students, friends and their families in Severna Park who knew Jim McCandless, the local baseball coach and athletics director who died unexpectedly on Tuesday. The service will be held Thursday beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, 611 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd. in Severna Park.
A letter was sent home to parents on Wednesday by Severna Park High School (SPHS) Principal Patrick Bathras expressing deep sympathy and shock at the death of their longtime varsity baseball coach.
Termed a "Falcon through and through" in the letter, McCandless graduated from SPHS in 1986. He served as an assistant baseball coach at SPHS in 1994, followed by four season as an assistant coach at Anne Arundel Community College. He then became head coach of the SPHS baseball program in 2000, bringing the school three state championships.
"More importantly than the wins and losses, however, was the character Jim instilled in his players and the program. No one was more proud of the success of our student-athletes, both on and off the field, than Jim. Severna Park’s teams were known throughout the state for their sportsmanship and the positive attitude they consistently displayed," Bathras wrote.
Counselors from other schools and the central office came to the school on Wednesday to assist any students or staff members in need of talking about their grief. According to the letter, counselors will be available as long as needed.
McCandless was also the executive director of the Green Hornets recreational sports organization since 1993.
"It's just tragic, Jim and I became good friends working together in baseball," said Bill Voelp, commissioner of baseball for the Hornets. "He was always unbelievably supportive, and I couldn't believe what the man could do. I'm not sure how to replace him," he said.
"With us he always so supportive and responsive and would work with you whenever you wanted and got out of the way when needed—he didn't micromanage and let you do your thing."
Voelp said he was amazed at how hard McCandless worked and how he never complained.
To honor his memory, all Green Hornets basketball games scheduled for Sunday have been canceled.
A Memorial Service will be held on Mon. Jan. 30, 2012 at 11 a.m. at Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, 400 Benfield Rd.,Severna Park. A reception will follow the service.
CORRECTION: The number of championships Jim McCandless led in baseball at Severna Park High School has been corrected.