Sopocy retires after 24 years as South coach

Standing on the third base line, Kay Sopocy, varsity softball coach, smiles while clapping her hands during a game against Evanston on April 12. Sopocy is finishing off her 24th year of coaching for the GBS softball team.

Jacqueline DeWitt

Standing on the third base line, Kay Sopocy, varsity softball coach, smiles while clapping her hands during a game against Evanston on April 12. Sopocy is finishing off her 24th year of coaching for the GBS softball team.

Kyle O'Shaughnessy and Maggie Eschenbach

Kay Sopocy, varsity softball coach and assistant athletic director,  is retiring next year after 24 years at South. According to Sopocy, it was fitting for her to finish her career here at South and believes it is time for her to move on.

“[It makes sense] to finish my career here because [GBS has] all the things I like, high schoolers [and] high school athletics,” Sopocy said. “The ability to work in athletics is huge because I’m passionate about that. [GBS] is where I think I belong.”

Sopocy said she grew up knowing what she wanted to do; she never questioned her desire to teach. According to Sopocy, her father and Kaye Pierce, the Maine South PE department chairman, each played a significant role in her aspiring to become a teacher. According to Sopocy, she went on to Northwestern University to get her Master’s degree for teaching.

“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher and so there was never any question, I never even considered any other path, so I went to [Northern Illinois University] for my undergraduate and [Northwestern University] for my master’s degree,” Sopocy said.

During her time here at South, Sopocy has met and had the opportunity to impact hundreds of students through softball and physical education. According to Sopocy, she was very grateful to have had such an opportunity.

“[The highlights of] every day of class, […] practice and games [are] the connections with the [PE Leaders and my softball players] I have had,” Sopocy said. “I mean, I [look] forward to going to both every day; I have been very fortunate for what I have been able to do, because [I love] the things I do.”

PE Leader Tommy Hagerty has known Sopocy since his junior year. He attested to Sopocy’s dedication and character.

“[Sopocy is] charismatic, passionate, [and] really cares about PE and teaching,” Hagerty said. “Every day she was always sweet [and] gentle. She brought together the [leaders].”

Senior Lisa Gebien agreed with Hagerty. According to Gebien, Sopocy was a passionate coach who lifted players up instead of putting them down. According to Gebien, Sopocy is leaving a big pair of shoes to fill.

“[Sopocy’s] very kind and gracious, she’s always willing to help anyone out with what they need; she’s willing to go beyond what’s expected of her,” Gebien said. “She really has a passion for the sport, it’s contagious. When she recognizes that you have an interest and a skill, she definitely helps you meet your goals for the sport and that really makes her a desirable coach to have. [She’s] very positive and she’s always communicating. [She is also] gracious, intelligent and passionate.”

Dana Boehmer, junior varsity softball coach, like Gebien, had the opportunity to work with and know Sopocy. Boehmer shares Gebien’s opinions on Sopocy’s character and her ability as a coach. According to Boehmer, Sopocy isn’t replaceable and will be missed.

“I don’t think anyone will ever be able to replace Coach Sopocy; she’s done so much […] for females in sports in this building,” Boehmer said.

Now faced with the reality of retirement, Sopocy says she is looking to the future. According to Sopocy, her family will come first; she is looking forward to getting to know her newest granddaughter. According to Sopocy, overall, she wants to still be active.

“Family first,” Soposcy said. “I might, for awhile, do a little subbing. I’ve also [wanted to be] involved in Habitat [for Humanity], I’ve thought about getting involved in some aspect of that. I really love doing that kind of work, too. One thing I am sure [of] is I won’t be sitting still.”