Under new management. That’s a sign that has been attached to the Penfield boys soccer team only twice in the last 59 years. John Cotsonis is the new head coach, succeeding his friend and mentor John Butterworth.
“I think I feel so much more comfortable with these guys because this is my 19th year here,” said Cotsonis. “Every single kid except for one has played for me . So it kind of feels like home.”
Continuity is what Penfield soccer is all about. Between them, Butterworth and his predecessor George Steitz, put in 58 years behind the bench.
“My first game at Penfield in 1976 as a 23 year old JV coach was at Mendon. We went out to there and played game number one and got through that. We went on to go 14-0-0 and the varsity won sectionals. I thought, ‘this is the way it’s going to be at Penfield.”
That wasn’t far from the truth. Under Butterworth, Penfield soccer won 384 games, 11 sectional and three state titles, in 2001, 2002 and 2004. These days you’ll find him fulltime at John D. Butterworth Associates financial services. He’s staying clear of the soccer field.
“Stepping away from something you love as much as I love Penfield soccer after 37 years is not an easy thing to do. I threw everything I had into what I was doing there for a long time. I feel good about all the contacts I’ve received since I stepped away; hundreds of ex-players, opposing coaches, old assistant coaches of mine. They just kind of re-enforce the value of what we were doing and I feel good about it.”
Butterworth’s retirement came as a surprise when he finalized it in June. It was the result of many factors, including the Boston Marathon bombing by terrorists in April.
“My son-in-law was running his 13th consecutive Boston Marathon and he crossed the line two minutes before the bomb went off. For 25 minutes I was in my office and my heart was in my throat, I didn’t know what his status was. He was OK but the whole thing was just terrible.”
In the end, it is all about perspective.
“You learn that the results are never going to be anywhere near as important as the effort put in to get ready for those matches. A lot of personal commitment that will be lifetime commitments to those people who are still really important to me.”
Bill Pucko is a career journalist, an award-winning writer and broadcaster. He has worked for more than 30 years in television, radio, and newspapers in Rochester. He is a sports columnist for the Messenger Post Newspapers, co-founded and editor of Bylinesports.com, and producer and host of a high school sports show on WBGT.