Oct. 21 was not just another Thursday for North Shore boys soccer coach Bernie Hintz; it was a day to celebrate a long and distinguished coaching career. North Shore's 1-0 victory against Clarke gave Hintz his 321st career victory, making him the winningest coach in Nassau history, according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
"I was tearing up on the sideline because my bench players put their arms around me and they started a countdown [as the game ended]," Hintz said. "They were more ecstatic for what they had given me than what they had done."
Senior captain Jake Venditto said Hintz told his team about the record leading up to the game.
"He'd been telling us in practice that it could happen. We started getting pumped to get Coach the win," Venditto said. "We were really excited for Coach that we were the team to get him that win because he had such a long history and we were the one to push it over the edge."
Hintz, 60, eclipsed former Cold Spring Harbor coach Ralph Whitney, who had 320 career wins. Hintz estimated that Cold Spring Harbor was responsible for 20 percent of his losses; mostly in large part to Whitney's coaching.
"I played a lot of games against Ralph, it took probably nine or 10 years to get my first win against him," Hintz said. "I considered him one of my mentors; I thought he was like a God."
Hintz's 39-year coaching career is highlighted by two state championships he won while at Wheatley, in 1983 and 2004. Wheatley also made it to the final in 2001 and semifinals in 1984. Hintz coached midfielder Carlos Mendes, who plays professionally for the Red Bulls.
"I never looked at my record as the most important thing, to me it's to give the kids a chance to have the same feelings I had playing soccer," Hintz said. "Now I look back I didn't do too bad; I'm starting to enjoy that I did pretty well over the last 39 years."
Hintz left Wheatley in 2005 with a record of 285-193-54 in 33 seasons. He said he believed he was going to retire at the time but his wife encouraged him to seek the coaching position at North Shore, where he has a record of 36-26-15 in six years.
Hintz said he may call it quits after two more seasons, once his wife retires.
"That's only a plan, that's not written in stone," he said, "and if I know her she'll say 'you'll find time.' "