As Awakening Community Church Pastor David Bradshaw introduced his newest associate minister Sunday morning, Tim Stimmell awaited approval from the congregation.

The church is located in the Southpoint Shoppes Shopping Center in Spotsylvania County and is having service outside in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I feel like there was a lot of excitement,” Stimmell said. “We were in a drive-in service so a lot of times you get approval from horns honking. When I was announced, there were definitely some cheers and honking horns.”

While parishioners at Awakening rejoiced, Riverbend High School is now in search of a new athletic director.

Stimmell, 48, resigned from the post he’s held since the 2010-11 school year to take on full-time duties as an associate pastor at Awakening.

Stimmell was hired at Riverbend to replace Dave Lancaster and initially did double-duty as baseball coach and AD until 2014.

“It hurts to see him go,” said Riverbend first-year baseball coach Eric Byrd, who played under Stimmell. “But his phone is always open for anybody that wants to talk. I’m sure there will be plenty more questions down the road and he’ll mentor me through this journey of being a baseball coach.”

Stimmell will mentor many more on a spiritual level. He said ministry has been a life calling for as long as he can remember but “very recently it became a reality.”

The Warren, Pa. native worked in education for 24 years, starting with a seven-year stint at Manteo (N.C.) High School beginning in 1997.

When Riverbend opened in 2004, he became the Bears’ first baseball coach and held the position for 10 years. The Bears advanced to the regional playoffs three times and were co-Battlefield District regular season champions in 2007 under his leadership.

Byrd, who went on to pitch for Virginia Military Institute, said Stimmell was instrumental in his decision to return to his alma mater to coach. At age 23, Byrd was all set for his first season but the pandemic ended the campaign before it began.

“He mentored his players on and off the field,” Byrd said. “He grew us into men while we were on the field and he guided us to make good decisions when we were off the field. So when it came to coaching, I always had a plan to go back there if was ever able to.”

Byrd and the Bears will now have a new leader of the activities department--just the third AD in the school’s history.

Stimmell said it should be an attractive job based on facilities, coaches and parental support. The football stadium upkeep will be minimal because Riverbend had artificial turf installed earlier this spring.

“It’s going to be an awesome job for whoever gets it,” Stimmell said.

Byrd noted that Stimmell oversaw a baseball field that remained in pristine condition and he said that before the turf was installed, the Bears received recognition for the maintenance of the stadium field.

“It wasn’t just about baseball,” Byrd said. “He takes pride in everything that he does.”

Stimmell said he wouldn’t have departed Riverbend for any reason other than to fulfill his calling. He said he enjoyed the relationships he established with the student body and his colleagues. He added that co-laboring on Virginia High School League issues such as redistricting with other ADs in the area was also fulfilling.

He said, however, his greatest thrill at Riverbend was watching athletes compete.

“I always had the best seat in the house and I got to see our kids compete for 10 years from that spot,” Stimmell said. “I got to see their emotion, their excitement. Those are really my favorite memories, just seeing their faces when they were giving everything they had. That’s what will stick with me the most.”

Taft Coghill Jr: 540/374-5526

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