Bill Edwards almost missed the start of Friday night's Suffolk County Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The Hofstra softball coach had a good excuse. His team had won earlier in the day, giving Edwards 926 victories in a career that began in 1980. Hall of Fame credentials, indeed.
"I don't count them. We just keep playing the games,'' said Edwards, who had more than 60 family and friends on hand. "This is crazy. I'm blown away.''
Edwards was one of nine inductees in the Suffolk Hall of Fame's Class of 2014, a group that included two others with Hofstra connections: Jim Metzger, a lacrosse All-American at Hofstra and three-sport star at Half Hollow Hills East, and Doug Shanahan, a lacrosse-football star at Sachem and Hofstra who could not attend because the high school lacrosse team he coaches in Florida was playing in the state tournament.
"For me, this has special meaning because my athletic career was brief,'' Metzger said. "I left my stick, gloves and helmet in a locker after my sophomore year for personal reasons and didn't watch a lacrosse game for 25 years. Then my nephew Rob Pannell started playing and I learned to re-appreciate the game.''
The other inductees honored at a Hauppauge hotel were Steve Borbet (Bay Shore girls track coach since 1975); Fred Cambria (a Northport resident who pitched for the 1970 Pittsburgh Pirates before a shoulder injury ended his career); Ed Cinelli (outgoing executive director of Suffolk County high school sports and coach/athletic director at Patchogue-Medford); Scott Craig (current West Islip boys lacrosse coach with 426 victories); Tom Sabatello (longtime Sachem athletic director), and Nick Schroeder (longtime athletic director in the Brentwood and Smithtown districts).
Said Craig, whose Lions have won nine Suffolk championships and five state titles: "This is a great honor for me, but I hope it's perceived as a great honor for West Islip and the community's commitment to lacrosse.''
Edwards recalled getting into softball coaching while teaching at Commack. "I was still playing and officiating softball and I had two daughters that played," he said. "I fell in love with the game."
Edwards has been at Hofstra for 25 years and never had a losing season. "I'm seeing people I haven't seen in 15 years,'' an emotional Edwards said. "Tonight is all about the lifetime lessons we teach.''