‘Time for Somebody Else’: Windsor High’s Only Boys Soccer Coach Steps Down

  • Windsor boys soccer coach Andy Tufts speaks with players, from left, Matthew Tufts, Jon Malikowski and Nat Williams at halftime of their game with Black River in Windsor, Vt., on Oct. 1, 2010. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Andy Tufts, shown in 2016, is stepping down after 27 years with Windsor High boys soccer.

Valley News Correspondent
Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Windsor — Windsor High has had only one boys soccer coach in the program’s history, and he is stepping away. Andy Tufts said on Tuesday that, after 27 years overseeing the Yellowjackets, it was time “to do something else every late summer and fall.”

There are all kinds of championship banners along the walls of the Windsor gym. None of them belong to the boys soccer team, but there is little doubt that what Tufts accomplished over those 27 years rates: Tufts established a thriving futbol program in a football town.

“When we started, the feeling was that we would take players away from the football team,” said Tufts. “However, in our first year (1991 junior varsity), we had good numbers, and the football team won a state championship.”

While Tufts has been the only varsity soccer coach at Windsor, he credited the administrators in charge at the time, athletic director John Barth and principal Joe Silver, for getting the program going. “They thought we had too many kids hanging around in the fall, so they bought a bag of soccer balls,” Tufts noted.

Tufts was on the scene teaching history after playing soccer at Burr and Burton and had recently graduated from the University of Vermont.

“John had tried to recruit me earlier to coach junior high basketball, and they were looking for volunteers to coach the soccer team,” Tufts recalled.

Tufts got the job and connected with Jim Ewald, and the two of them had a varsity program up and running in 1995.

Coaching soccer is not an easy thing in Windsor.

“We don’t have a lot of kids growing up where soccer is the primary sport,” Tufts explained. “Even today, one of my seniors (Andrew Gregory) didn’t start playing soccer until he was a freshman, and he turned into one of my better players.”

Tufts and his longtime assistant, Scott Richardson, were together for 15 years or so, and the two of them learned on the job “and (by) going to coaching clinics,” added Tufts.

The result has been a lot of fun, but not a lot of glory. “We lost more games than we won,” said Tufts, who accumulated a 119-217-13 record over 23 varsity campaigns.

Windsor went to the VPA semifinal twice during Tufts tenure. The Jacks reached the VPA Division III semis in 2006, losing a 2-1 decision to Thetford on an own goal and a penalty kick. Five years later, Tropical Storm Irene wrecked MacLeay-Royce Field, Windsor’s home, and the Jackets played all their games on the road, eventually dropping a 1-0 D-III semifinal to Northfield in a match played at Hanover High School.

While the student enrollment continues to shrink at Windsor, the soccer numbers have always been decent.

“It was never about the numbers,” Tufts said. “It was the lack of a feeder system. We were constantly teaching high school students the basics of the sport.”

One of the biggest supporters of Tufts is retired AD Bob Hingston, who got a firsthand look at the effort Tufts put into the program. “He was dedicated to that soccer program,” Hingston said. “He talked to some of the veteran coaches, like (Black River’s) Tony Valente in Ludlow, and did his due diligence by attending clinics and whatnot. He was always trying to improve his program.”

Tufts, who is a history teacher and Windsor High’s assistant athletic director, will continue in those two roles, but coaching soccer will be up to somebody else.

“We have people around here now that I think are interested,” he said. “But for me, while I absolutely enjoyed the experience, it’s time for somebody else put the time in.”