By Frank Rizzo
MONTICELLO “I’ve no regrets. It’s time to go,” said Ed Kaufmann of his decision to give up the reins after 32 years as wrestling coach at Monticello High School.
Kaufmann will also retire from teaching 7-8th grade physical education and health.
He leaves the program in good hands, with jayvee coach Justin Fenichal set to take over next year.
His last squad finished the year 7-5, the first winning record in more seasons than Kaufmann cares to remember. Every weight class was filled again, contrasting with the many years when the Panthers yielded forfeit points every match.
Kaufmann said the numbers for upcoming seasons are healthy, thanks in part to the recruiting efforts of modified coach Kyle Hoar.
Athletic Director Doug Murphy and the athletic department honored Kaufmann at the last home match earlier this month.
A number of former players showed up to participate in the short ceremony and, following the match, joined their mentor at a dinner.
Alexis Bruno and Rodney Stickle graduated in 2007. The Class of 1991 was represented by Jack Trebilcock and John Sperber. Mike Cardo and Ed Kaufmann Jr. were from the Class of 1992.
“They’ve become part of my family,” Kaufmann told the crowd, going on to thank all the parents and adding, “As far as I’m concerned, we’ve had a winning program here.”
It was also a night to recognize the others who’ve dedicated their time and talents to the program: Kaufmann’s wife Nancy, scorekeeper for all 32 years; program assistant Robert Keesler; and the Booster Club, with President Jackie D’Abbraccio and members Kelly Krier and Caryn Waichman.
Seniors Antonio Cruz, Richard Graham and Jerry Taggart received bouquets to mark their final home match.
Kaufmann reflected on how difficult it has been to keep interest up in the program over the years.
“It’s 24/7,” Kaufmann said of the sport. “There are no days off and you have to closely watch your weight. We had six tourneys this season you’re talking about 14-hour days. Kids don’t want to put in that kind of effort.”
Kaufmann said he plans to stay in the area, help out if needed in the other sports he coaches varsity softball and jayvee volleyball, and spend more time with his family.
Among the career highlights Kaufmann cited were the teams from the early ’90s. Though he could not make Kaufmann’s “night,” Marcus Hutchins (’91) has visited in the past. Hutchins wrestled in the NCAA Tournament three out of his four years at SUNY Buffalo and two years ago was elected to the university’s Hall of Fame.
Hutchins is currently Director of Recreational Services in the Division of Athletics at SUNY Buffalo.
Another standout who’s kept in touch and could not be there was Dwight Robinson (’90), an art teacher in a Rochester school.
Of those who were able to attend, Trebilcock runs a boating business in Rocky Point, L.I., John Sperber is part of the NetLife helicopter crew at Catskill Regional Medical Center, Cardo owns an internet business, and son Ed Jr. is golf course superintendent at Scarsdale CC.
Kaufmann said the biggest change he has seen during his tenure is in the conduct of coaches an increase in the “win at all costs mentality,” and what he called “a disregard for ethics.”
This was part of the circumstances that made his decision to retire an easy one.