Andrew Sadowski was too caught up in the small picture to immediately appreciate the larger picture. Then his players reminded him by giving him a round of applause.
Sadowski wasn’t exactly enthralled with how his Southold High School boys soccer team was playing in a back-and-forth game at The Stony Brook School last Thursday. The First Settlers did salvage a 2-1 triumph on goals by senior center midfielders Pete Bouchet and Joey Worsyz.
Moments later, Sadowski was honored for his milestone, his 250th career win, by the people he would perhaps most appreciate it from — his players.
“He was pretty calm and then we all just were at the bench and we all knew what it was and we just clapped it up for him,” Fouchet said. “He was like, ‘You guys didn’t make it easy, but thank you.’ ”
Walker Sutton, a senior center midfielder, called it “a big moment for him.”
What was Sadowski’s take on the achievement?
“I didn’t even think about it until after the end of the game and the kids started to congratulate me,” he said. “I was more concerned about how we were playing than anything else.”
Two hundred and fifty wins is a lot. Wait a minute, make that 252. The First Settlers defeated Smithtown Christian, 4-1, in their homecoming game on Saturday with two goals by Fouchet, one by Worysz and an own goal. Fouchet was credited with another two goals Tuesday in a 4-0 home win over Pierson/Bridgehampton.
That brought Sadowski’s career mark to 252-102-21.
It’s quite an achievement. Sadowski, who is in his 22nd year as Southold’s coach, ranked third in wins by active Suffolk County coaches before the start of the season, according to the Suffolk County Boys Soccer Coaches Association. Ahead of him were Ron Eden of Brentwood with 482 wins and Val Winter of Sayville with 263.
Sadowski sat 17th on the all-time list. Robert Muir, a former Mattituck coach, heads that list with 509 marks in the “W” column.
“It’s a real honor to be in the company of all the other top coaches in Suffolk County,” said Sadowski.
Noah Mina, a senior center midfielder, said: “He deserves all of it. He worked really hard for this. He’s been here a while and he’s had great teams over the years. When you go up island, upstate even, people hear Southold soccer, they know who you are. They know the program. He’s a great coach, and his players respect him.”
According to the coaches association, Sadowski is the sixth coach in Southold’s history, following Ed Greco (1993), Craig Osmer (1986-92), Bob Feger (1984-85), Gene Maiorana (1981-83) and Dick Osmer (1957-80).
A 22-year coaching career isn’t something someone exactly plans on. One year follows another, and it starts to add up.
“Time just keeps going and you keep trying to be competitive and create teams that are working hard and learning about life, and all of a sudden, it’s 22 years later,” said Sadowski.
Sadowski, 51, has a rich history as a player. He played in the Long Island Junior Soccer League as well as for St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset, Marist College and in the Long Island Soccer Football League. He remains a student of the game and a fan of the New York Cosmos.
A coach, he said, has to change with the times, and that is what Sadowski has done over the years. Known for sending his players out on two-mile runs during practices, Sadowski has adapted his methods over the years. It’s called evolution. Now Sadowski is said to make use of dancing routines during training to keep things fun and interesting.
“He’s just finding new ways to help us,” said Sutton.
Sadowski, who is a history teacher at Southold High School, said he does what he expects from the students in his classroom: He keeps studying.
“You have to change as a coach,” he said. “It’s called life experience. There’s no way you can’t change. With my players, it’s giving them opportunities to develop as young men. I certainly am very proud of the accomplishment, but I’m more proud of all the players that have been a part of my life.”
Sadowski said he takes particular pleasure in seeing his former players at the annual alumni game that was started about five years ago.
An intense coach who yells and wears his emotions on his sleeve during games, Sadowski is a popular coach among his players.
So much goes into coaching beyond the actual soccer. There is the administrative work, staying on top of players to make sure they stay on top of their school work and so much more. The two hours or so he spends on the field every day, he said, is the easiest part of the job.
“It’s a challenge,” he said, “but when you see the results, obviously it’s all worth it.”
Bob Liepa is the sports editor of the Suffolk Times. He can be reached at [email protected].
Top photo: Southold coach Andrew Sadowski, right, with his former player and assistant coach Lucas Grigonis at a practice last year. (Credit: Garret Meade, file)