Ed Nietopski will be celebrating his 76th birthday this November, and his celebration will probably be a little unusual for someone his age. If all goes according to plan, Nietopski will have taken over as the all-time winning basketball coach in Section 5 history. Nietopski who has led the Bishop Kearney High School boys varsity basketball team for the last 15 years, is 5 wins away from his 528th victory which will have him stand alone atop Section 5.
While this would be cause for fantastic celebration for many, Nietopski will undoubtedly shrug it off. While blazing a path as one of the greatest high school coaches ever, Nietopski has done so without ever attempting to draw any attention or receive any credit. He goes about racking up victories and collecting honors as if it were just another day.
It is tough to find weaknesses in Nietopski's athletic records, but the real strength lies in the relationships he builds with his student athletes and in his dedication to Catholic education. Nietopski has always been there for his players long after the last whistle of the last game they play. His commitment to them can be evidenced in the many close relationships Nietopski still has with his former players.
Recently Bishop Kearney rededicated the gymnasium in honor of Nietopski and a former player anonymously sent in the largest single donation in the school's history.
In nearly 40 years as a Catholic educator, Nietopski has served as a coach, theology teacher, physical education teacher and athletic director. Nietopski always has the respect of his students because he has been able to provide a living example of what his students should strive for as a loving parent and a caring member of the community.
Nietopski is a charter member of the Frontier Field Walk of fame, was named Eastern US High School coach of the Year, was recently honored by the Rochester Press Radio Association with the Holleder Award, and has been inducted into eh Section 5 Athletic hall of fame, and the National High School Coaches Hall of Fame. With many plaques and awards, Nietopski believes that his biggest trophy in life is his family and the life he shares with his wife, Betty, for the last 53 years. The couple is proud of their seven children and nine grandchildren.
As a young man raised in Buffalo, NY, Nietopski had a lot of promise as a baseball player. He was a star athlete for Emerson Vocational in both basketball and baseball. Nietopski was in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system in 1950 missed the major Leagues by about 15 minutes. Just before he was about to board the train at the close of camp, a team official told him that he would be headed to Rochester, NY instead. Nietopski was beat out by a player named Sally Hemus and to this day he carries Hemus' baseball card in his wallet. What could have been a crushing blow turned into a blessing. Nietopski reported to Rochester where he played for the Triple A Red Wings and met Betty the love of his life.
In the off seasons, Nieptopski continued his schooling and eventually left baseball to teach at Brockport High School in 1958. After seven years at Brockport, he transferred to cardinal Mooney High School in Greece, NY, where he stayed until the school closed down in 1989. There he served as athletic director, coach and teacher. Nietopski then came to Bishop Kearney High School in Irondequoit, NY, where he filled the same roles.
Today he serves Kearney as only the boys varsity basketball coach, having retired from full-time work several years ago and after stepping down from his position as varsity baseball coach two years ago. When he walked away from baseball he did so with 705 wins, second all-time in New York State.
Ed Nietopski is undoubtedly a winner, but it has been thousands of Rochester's Catholic high school students who have really received a prize.