Fernley mayor to go into NMSU Hall of Fame | NevadaAppeal.com

Fernley mayor to go into NMSU Hall of Fame

Steve Yingling
Nevada Appeal News Service

While the National Football League never appreciated what Todd Cutler accomplished in Las Cruces, New Mexico State University hasn’t forgotten.

Fifteen years after becoming an Academic All-American football player for the Aggies, Cutler has been selected to NMSU’s Athletics Hall of Fame.

“It means a lot to him,” said Cutler’s wife Dee Dee.

The former Whittell High School three-sport athlete will be inducted Feb. 24 at halftime of a men’s basketball game and he’s tickled by the honor.

“I’m getting chills thinking about this,” said Cutler, who is the current mayor of Fernley and a National League of Cities council member. “To get the call in December that I was selected, it was an overwhelming emotion to be recognized for the hard work I put into athletics. That career started at a very young age, and I’m very proud of it.”

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

Cutler discovered a love of football as an 8-year-old while playing for the Zephyr Cove Broncos. Before long he would become the star quarterback for Whittell High, leading the Warriors to the 1987 Northern Nevada championship.

Cutler, though, was more than an all-state football player. He won state track titles in the 400 meters and high hurdles and was an all-state and all-league basketball player.

New Mexico State convinced Cutler to help right its moribund football program in 1988. The Aggies converted Cutler to a tight end, a switch that suited the Whittell High grad.

ONE OF THE NATION’S BEST

By his junior year, Cutler became one of the nation’s top statistical producers at tight end. His 718 receiving yards in 1991 ranked him second in the country and the total still stands as a school record for a tight end.

He concluded his Aggies’ career with 113 receptions, including six scores, for 1,547 yards. Cutler’s statistical production led to two All-Big West Conference first-team selections and second-team All-American recognition by Football News in 1992.

Cutler also got it done in the classroom. The secondary education major was chosen first-team Verizon/GTE Academic All-American in 1992 after being tabbed a second-teamer the previous year. To this day there have been only nine Academic All-American football players at the university.

Until Cutler’s senior year the Aggies experienced little team success. In his first three seasons New Mexico State won a total of three games out off 33. But third-year coach Jim Hess directed Cutler and the Aggies through those dark times in 1992 with a 6-5 breakthrough season.

“It was not an easy time to play football at New Mexico State. We had a lot of losing seasons and a lot of players coming and going. I just remember the perseverance, pushing through the negativity,” Cutler said. “I was the team captain in 1992 for the first winning season since 1978; that was really a thrill.”

NFL DOESN’T CALL

Cutler did all he could on the football field, but his feats didn’t catapult him into the riches of the NFL. Despite receiving predraft mention by Mel Kiper and being rated as the third-best tight end by some publications, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Cutler wasn’t chosen in the eight-round draft.

Stunned and hurt, Cutler returned home and began building a new life around education. While teaching at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School in Gardnerville, Cutler assisted Douglas High football coach Mike Rippee.

“I must have been a miserable guy to coach with. I was really soured that I didn’t get an opportunity to play,” Cutler said. “When it didn’t happen, it was a tough transition. Once I realized that it was all over and I had to get over it, it really provided the drive for me to accomplish the next things in my life.”

LIFE AFTER FOOTBALL

Cutler wasted no time enhancing his career in education. While teaching and coaching football at Clark High in Las Vegas, he earned his master’s degree in administration from the University of Phoenix in Las Vegas. That led to short stints as principal at Virginia City High in Virginia City and assistant principal at Fernley High and principal at Cottonwood Elementary School in Fernley.

Cutler’s voracious appetite for educating himself and others hasn’t slowed down in recent years. He is working on a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University while serving as a school improvement analyst with Western Nevada Regional Training Program. His latest education task requires him to write a school improvement plan to meet the needs of students, implement those suggestions and then monitor them.

LAUNCHING A

POLITICAL CAREER

With a wife of 11 years and two preteen daughters, Cutler can’t possibly have time for any other interests, right?

Think again.

Cutler, a Fernley resident for the past seven years, was elected the city’s mayor after he followed through on a suggestion by Dee Dee that he enter politics.

“It’s really exciting for me to make a difference and see that difference come about, whether it’s kids in school or in the city,” Cutler said.

Since his senior year in college, Cutler has been a leader and that quality has even been recognized nationally. He was recently appointed to serve a one-year term on the National League of Cities’s leadership council in Washington D.C. The NLC is the oldest national organization representing municipal governments in the United States. Through their conference and summit meetings council members try to determine leadership development needs.

“Hard work pays off in the end if you just push and push,” Cutler said.

PASSING ON HIS

LEADERSHIP QUALITIES

That work ethic is already evident in both of his daughters. In fact, 8-year-old Carli, Cutler’s youngest, won’t be able to attend his induction ceremony later this month because of her own pursuits.

“When she heard that I was being honored, she said, ‘Daddy, congratulations.’ When she heard it was on Feb. 24 she went to her calendar and said, ‘I’ll be at a gymnastics meet in San Jose. I can’t go.'”

Cutler didn’t argue with his daughter, a level-six gymnast.

“I was the same way growing up. If there was something happening in sports, you just don’t miss it. She has that same mental toughness and approach that she’s going to be successful.”

A born leader, mind you.