Bruce Wheeler Obituary North Dartmouth, MA, Former UMass Dartmouth Assistant AD and Head Baseball Coach has died

A true legend was lost on Tuesday, September 26 in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, and throughout the collegiate baseball community. Former assistant athletic director and baseball coach Bruce Wheeler of UMass Dartmouth passed suddenly, leaving behind a legacy that will go on forever in sports history. In addition to influencing the lives of several student-athletes throughout his illustrious career, Wheeler also made a lasting impression on the baseball programme at Southeastern Massachusetts University (now UMass Dartmouth) that will be remembered for years to come.

A Career Spanning Generations

Bruce Wheeler’s journey in the world of coaching began in the high school level in Vermont before he made his mark at the collegiate level. In 1972, he took the reins as the head baseball coach at Southeastern Massachusetts University, a role he would hold for an astounding 33 seasons until 2004. Wheeler’s unwavering dedication and passion for the sport were evident in the results he achieved during his tenure.

The Corsairs’ baseball programme thrived under Wheeler’s direction, enjoying outstanding success over the years. His teams had a stellar total record of 746 victories, 530 defeats, and four ties for a winning percentage of.584. Just these numbers demonstrate how effective a coach and leader Wheeler is.

Wheeler’s career-defining talent may have been his ability to routinely lead his teams to the postseason. His teams’ stability and competitive edge were demonstrated by their nine NCAA Division III tournament appearances. Additionally, they played in four National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national tournaments and earned eight trips to the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) tournament.

A League Champion

In 1997, Wheeler witnessed a significant milestone in the program’s history when the Little East Conference (LEC) added baseball as a championship sport. This change opened up new opportunities for Wheeler and his Corsairs. Under his guidance, the Corsairs went on to clinch five conference postseason berths and secured the program’s only Little East tournament title in the year 2000. This championship marked a crowning achievement in Wheeler’s storied career, solidifying his legacy as a coach who could lead his team to victory on the grandest stage.

Records and All-Americans

One of the highlights of Wheeler’s tenure was the 1975 baseball season when his team set a school record with 32 victories. Throughout his career, Wheeler’s teams consistently surpassed the 20-win mark, achieving this milestone on 22 occasions and recording 30 or more wins in five campaigns. Such consistency and excellence are a testament to Wheeler’s coaching prowess and his ability to foster a winning culture within his teams.

Wheeler’s impact extended beyond the win-loss column. He mentored a total of nine All-Americans, including four first-team American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) honorees: Mark Chicoine, Rod Correia, John Graham, and Pat Schultz. These players, under Wheeler’s tutelage, not only achieved individual excellence but also contributed significantly to the success of their teams, showcasing the coach’s ability to develop talent and create a winning environment.

Wheeler’s success wasn’t confined to the baseball diamond. In fact, he had a dual coaching career, serving as the Corsairs’ men’s basketball coach from 1972 to 1983. During his time as the head basketball coach, Wheeler’s leadership skills were evident once again as he guided the team to numerous victories.

In 1976, Wheeler led the then-SMU basketball team to a berth in the NCAA tournament, a testament to his ability to excel in multiple sports. Additionally, his 1978-79 basketball squad earned a trip to the ECAC tournament, further solidifying his reputation as a coach who could achieve success across different disciplines.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions to UMass Dartmouth and the world of collegiate sports, Bruce Wheeler was inducted into the UMass Dartmouth Corsair Hall of Fame in 2003. This honor celebrated his enduring impact on the university and the lasting influence he had on the lives of student-athletes.

Furthermore, in 2019, Wheeler was enshrined in the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) Hall of Fame, a distinction reserved for the most influential figures in New England baseball. This recognition underlined the profound influence he had on the sport, not just at the university level but throughout the entire region.

Wheeler was given the prestigious Jack Butterfield Award by the NEIBA in 1997, which is given to people who have distinguished themselves in the service of collegiate baseball. This honour was a deserving homage to Wheeler’s unwavering devotion to the game and his passion to developing the baseball players and leaders of tomorrow.

The passing of Bruce Wheeler ushers in a new era in collegiate baseball and athletics. His legacy encompasses more than just the victories and defeats; it also includes the lives he touched and the morals he instilled in his players. Wheeler will always be regarded as a coach, mentor, and leader who had a lasting impact on UMass Dartmouth and the numerous people who had the honour of working with him.

As North Dartmouth mourns the loss of this coaching icon, it also celebrates a remarkable career filled with achievements, championships, and a commitment to excellence. Bruce Wheeler’s influence will continue to inspire future generations of athletes and coaches, ensuring that his memory lives on in the hearts and minds of all those who were fortunate enough to know him.