Soccer fields officially renamed after longtime Guilford coach Bill Wallach

GUILFORD — Bill Wallach has been involved in coaching soccer on some level for more than six decades. Even now, at 81, he still works with high school goalkeepers.

So it’s safe to say he had quite an impact on many young players’ lives. And a number of them were on hand A.W. Cox Elementary School Saturday afternoon to see their former coach honored.

Two soccer fields at Cox Elementary School were renamed for the former Guilford High boys and girls coach in a dedication ceremony. They are now called The Bill Wallach Soccer Fields

“If there was a soccer playbook I couldn’t ask for a better outcome than today,” Wallach said. “I gave them a little bit of something, they gave me more, their deviation, their loyalty. I know they had my back and they know I had theirs.”

Wallach won six state championships and another 11 Shoreline Conference titles, all with the boys program. He coached more than two decades at the school, posting a record of 220-13-9. That included three seasons with the girls program from 1997-99.

Among his other coaching stops were brief stints at the University of New Haven and Quinnipiac College men’s programs.

“It’s finally recognizing someone who touched alot our lives,” said Kathryn Bateman, who played for Wallach on town travel teams and the Nutmeg State Games. “With 11 girls on one team reaching one goal, he taught us, ‘You have one shot to work together.’ That’s been my focus in life.”

Wallach’s wife Carol and sons Mike, Andrew and Jim were on hand Saturday.

A committee was formed in 2019 to try and get the project accomplished, and it became a reality last August. The COVID-19 pandemic postponed having an official dedication until Saturday.

This was accomplished with the help of the Guilford Parks and Recreation Department and the town’s Board of Selectmen, which had final say-so in renaming the fields.

The committee members, all Guilford High graduates, are as follows: Matt Renola (1987), Meg Malatesta (1988), Tina Pihl (1989), Adam Cohen (1989), Jamie Miller (1991), Bateman (1991) and Elisa Milano (1993) — dubbed “The Guilford Seven” by Wallach in his speech.

“Going through the process of even hoping to be recognized, you were nervous, almost like you were playing for him again because you wanted to win. And you never wanted to let him down,” Bateman said.

Cohen was unable to be there Saturday because he is the head women’s soccer coach at Southern Connecticut State University. The Owls had a road game at Southern New Hampshire.

“Coach Wallach sacrificed a lot for me. I wish I could have been there to see this, but Coach understands and he is rooting for Southern Connecticut to get him a win.”

Renola said there was close to $15,000 raised in donations, which Maynard said will help with upkeep of the fields. Donations can still be made through the town’s parks and rec website.

Wallch is a member of the Connecticut High School Coaches Hall of Fame and the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame. He hasn’t forgotten who helped get him there.

“I would like these fields to be named in honor of all the players who played on these fields,” Wallach said.

joseph.morelli@hearstmediact.com; @nhrJoeMorelli