Bob Sipperly said it had been in the works for a couple of years, but he had a hard time cutting the cord.
After Greenwich’s fourth consecutive Section II boys lacrosse championship last spring, however, the veteran coach decided it was the right time. So this season, for the first time since 2002, Sipperly will not be coaching a high school-level team at Greenwich.
Sipperly, a 1982 graduate of Hobart College, where he played on three Division III championship teams, started a junior varsity program at Greenwich in 2003. The Witches made the step up to varsity in 2005 and promptly won the Class C sectional title their first year.
Many more wins followed. Sipperly retired with a 135-78 record and Section II, Class C titles in 2005, 2006, 2014, 2015 and 2016. The Witches won a Class D title last year. Greenwich also reached the Class C sectional finals in 2007 and 2009-2011.
“The administration has been so good to me, they’ve made it difficult to leave,” Sipperly said. “I stayed longer than I thought I would, but finally I said I’ve got to do something different.”
Sipperly said he started Washington County’s first boys lacrosse program thanks to his wife Julie and because he wanted to coach his three boys, Trever, Derek and Dan, all of whom went on to play Division I lacrosse.
“Our program would not have ever gotten off the ground if not for her input and her supporting me the whole way,” Sipperly said of Julie.
Besides his own children, he is happy to see that he developed players who went on to play in college, such as Ryan McFee (Saint Rose), Jack Pemrick (freshman at Saint Rose) and Hayden Stalter (freshman at MIT), among others. That can be difficult at small schools, where interest seems to vary by year.
“In good years, we’d get eight to 10 kids who wanted to play. You get another grade and you’d get two, and that becomes the challenge. We were fortunate in that as a program, we got it going to where we’d get enough,” Sipperly said.
While he’s happy to step back, Sipperly can’t stay away entirely. He will work with the fifth- and sixth-graders in the Greenwich youth program and try to develop their basic skills so that by the time he sends them to new varsity coach Pete Niles, an assistant to Sipperly since day one, they’ll be more prepared.
“It was great, I had a lot of fun doing it,” Sipperly said of his high school coaching experience. “There were and are a lot of good kids and that made it difficult to leave. I’m happy the community climbed on board. We continue to have a JV program and there’s hopefully going to be a modified program next year.”