VESTAL, N.Y. – You’d be hard pressed to find another coach that embodies knowledge of their sport, teaching ability, and also positive energy like Bill Stepanovsky.
After 19 years, Stepo is now looking ahead at his future that will, after this fall, no longer include coaching.
This has been a familiar sight for many years, Bill Stepanovsky patrolling the sidelines of a soccer field, helping guide his teams to victory.
However, when school is back in session and fall sports kick into high gear, it won’t be the man known as “Stepo” pacing up and down the field.
After 19 years as head coach of the girl’s soccer programs at Union-Endicott and Vestal, Stepanovsky decided that now was the time to focus less on soccer, and more on family.
“My family has grown and moved away. It is time to spend a little bit more time with my family, visiting in three different states. So, I thought that this was a good time to step down a little bit, and not spend so much time on the soccer field,” he says.
During his nearly two decades at the helm of the Tigers and Golden Bears, Stepanovsky won 17 section titles, including going eight-for-eight in his years at Vestal.
He also tallied just shy of 300 wins.
However, Bill knows that when it comes to coaching teenagers, while winning is great, it’s developing the person that truly counts.
“You know, make them believe in themselves, and try to make them believe that maintaining wasn’t good enough and we can always get better. Just like in my case, I always told them that I didn’t know it all either. I keep working, I work hard every day to get better, and that they should do the same.”
It takes a lot to be a successful coach. While there were many things Bill had to learn on the fly, there was also a great deal he learned from perhaps his biggest coaching influence, his father.
“My dad was a big part of it. He always coached my baseball teams, and he made sure that everybody enjoyed their time there and made it friendly. I think I learned a lot from him, just being easy on the girl’s, tough at certain times. It was just the way it should be.”
Elmer Stepanovsky, pictured on the left next to his former Binghamton Triplets teammate and Baseball Hall of Famer Whitey Ford, taught his son many coaching and life lessons before he passed away.
Losing his father when he was only 19, it was incredibly difficult for Bill and his four other siblings.
However, through the years since, Bill has carried his dad’s wisdom.
“I did learn from him, probably the most important was just enjoy yourself out there and enjoy the kids around you. Always try to find the good out of the kids. I think that helped mold me quite a bit, just be happy and be thankful for what you’ve got.”
After so many rewarding years between two schools, Bill certainly took his dad’s advice and enjoyed every second of it.
“I just had such a great ride. So many positive experiences that came through the 19 years. I can’t thank them enough. As they say, I’m just glad I was able to give back.”
As mentioned before, the plan for Stepanovsky is to coach the J.V. team this season to help new varsity head coach Gina Baldwin’s transition go smoothly.
After that though, he told me, well, that’s still up in the air.