Winning state title a family affair for Tobin, Ellison
When Phil Tobin joined his sister and mother for a recent vacation, there was much to celebrate.
Tobin is the first-year baseball coach at Pinewood Prep and he led the Panthers to the SCISA Class AAA state championship with a victory over rival Northwood Academy.
Tobin’s sister, Becky Ellison, is the softball coach at Northwood Academy. She led the Chargers to the Class AAA state championship with a victory over Laurence Manning.
But the most important celebration was that of good health. The coaches’ mother, Sandra Tobin-Mitchum, was diagnosed in September 2008 with adenoid cystic cancer, a rare type of cancer that occurs in the areas of the head and neck. She underwent intense chemotherapy and radiation treatments and the cancer is in remission. She undergoes an MRI every six months.
“With God’s help, it will remain stable,” Tobin-Mitchum said. “It’s just lying there. Hopefully, it will stay that way.”
Ellison said her mother’s illness changed all of their lives.
“I can’t even put into words how I felt when I found out she had cancer,” Ellison said. “My world was rocked. I had a close friend who also was diagnosed with cancer around the time my mother was. That year taught me how to change a lot of perspectives about life."
Tobin-Mitchum was a single mom for most of her children’s formative years. She pushed them to do the right thing, become well-rounded and excel in their extracurricular activities.
Tobin played baseball at Stall High School and helped the Warriors win a state championship in 1985 under coach Jerry Stoots. Stoots coaches Northwood Academy and lost to his former student in the state championship last month. Tobin also played baseball at The Citadel and helped the Bulldogs reach the College World Series in 1990.
Ellison played softball at Stall and helped the Warriors win state titles in 1987 and ’88. She played for Stoots’ future wife, Jan.
Pinewood won the best-of-three series against Northwood, and Ellison was there to watch her brother hold the championship trophy.
“I didn’t wear anything that indicated I was rooting for Pinewood or Northwood,” Ellison said. “I was in a win-win situation. If Northwood wins, it’s great. If Pinewood wins, it’s great. It’s a rivalry, but it is also involves family. It felt good to see my brother succeed.”
Said Tobin: "Pinewood-Northwood is a pretty big rivalry. But we root for each other and discuss strategies over the phone. It keeps the family intact.”
Tobin-Mitchum was able to watch all of her children’s state championship series games.
“It was so unreal for them to win state championships in the same year,” Tobin-Mitchum said. “They havd good quality players, but they know how to coach. I got to their playoff games and to my grandson’s. It was a blessing to see what they achieved. A parent couldn’t be any prouder than I am.”
Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @pandcphil