BAR HARBOR, Maine — John Rosenfeld, the only boys varsity soccer coach Mount Desert Island High School has ever had, is retiring after 35 years on the sideline.
“At some point I knew I had to pass the torch on,” said Rosenfeld, who started the program at the varsity level in 1977.
“I knew this was coming.”
Rosenfeld coached the Trojans to 254 victories and 27 postseason appearances during his tenure — highlighted by Eastern Maine Class B championships in 1994 and 2000.
“John was a mentor for a lot of coaches we have at the high school,” said Bunky Dow, athletic administrator at MDI for the past 23 years. “For him it was not so much always about wins and losses as it was about developing young people for the next chapters in their lives, developing things like work ethic and commitment.
“And his knowledge of the game was right up there with all the other coaches, he was a student of the game and his teams were always well prepared.”
Rosenfeld, a Needham, Mass., native, played soccer at the University of Maine from 1969 to 1972, and after moving MDI a year later he noticed a soccer void on the island.
“There was no soccer at the high school but there was soccer at the junior high level” Rosenfeld said. “It was pretty active at that level, so I approached my athletic director at the time, Bernard Parady, about having a high school team and he was very supportive of the idea.”
MDI played one year of club soccer under Rosenfeld in 1976 before joining the varsity ranks a year later.
“I went into it never envisioning I’d even be in education for this long,” said Rosenfeld, who taught mathematics and cooperative education at MDI until retiring in 2011. “But things just fell into place and I was able to work in the same place for 37 years.”
Rosenfeld’s coaching style, while low-key in nature, placed an emphasis on players leading players.
“My experience as a player was that leadership was very, very important,” he said. “I tried as a coach not to be a dictator or sergeant. I felt that to be successful that we needed good leadership, good captains, and that if you had good captains a lot of good things would happen.
“Soccer is very much a players’ sport,” he said. “When the game begins, the coach might as well sit down because it’s the players who get to make the decisions on their own while they’re out there. I might get my eight to 10 minutes at halftime to have my input, but it’s really up to them.”
Several of Rosenfeld’s former players said his coaching style provided them not only a mastery of soccer’s fundamentals but interpersonal skills that have helped them in their adult lives.
“John did more than just coach, he probably changed a lot of people’s lives,” said Garric Worcester, a captain on the 1994 Eastern Maine title team. “He molded us through the years, he picked the leaders out and then put the trust in us to bring along the other guys the way he wanted.
“I learned a lot of life lessons from him, a lot of leadership skills and relationship skills,” Worcester said.
Among the current MDI coaches Rosenfeld mentored is girls varsity soccer coach Tom Savage, who played soccer for the Trojans for four years and was a captain of the school’s 1992 squad.
“At the time I didn’t realize how low-key of an individual he was,” Savage said. “He was out there teaching the game and then allowing you to express your personality with those skills on the field. I liked that. I was an emotional player, and he allowed me to use that and put the team under my wings as I grew to be a captain and a senior.
“Some coaches’ egos might get in the way of doing it that way, but John taught us the skills we needed and allowed us to use our personalities to take the rest of the guys to another level. He allowed me to do that, and I’ll always thank him for that,” Savage said.
Rosenfeld has been active in the state’s soccer community beyond his work at MDI, and in 1983 was honored by the Maine Soccer Coaches Association for outstanding contributions to soccer in Maine.
He served as vice president of the Maine Soccer Coaches Association from 1984 to 1987, and is a 27-year member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
Rosenfeld also was named the 2007 Penobscot Valley Conference Class B coach of the year.
Dow said he hopes to have Rosenfeld’s successor determined next week.
“Those will be big shoes to fill,” Dow said.
Baseball all-star games scheduled
The Maine Baseball Coaches Association has announced dates for its series of postseason all-star contests, a trio of contests capped off by the Maine Senior All-Star Game.
That contest, featuring the top senior high school players in the state divided into Eastern and Western Maine squads, will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, June 22, at Mahaney Diamond on the campus of the University of Maine in Orono.
Just before the first pitch of that contest will come the presentation of the 21st annual Dr. John W. Winkin Award, symbolic of the state’s Mr. Baseball.
Two other all-star contests also are on tap in the days leading up to that game.
The Maine vs. New Hampshire Senior All-Star Game will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 18, at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.
Then, on Wednesday, June 20, the Underclass All-Star Showcase featuring the top juniors, sophomore and freshmen in the state will be held at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish. The first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.