BY GREG KLEIN
Bruce Andrews received the the 19th Patrick G. Fetterman Award on Wednesday at the Otesaga Hotel. The award, named for the late director of the Clark Sports Center, goes to the person who has served Cooperstown and the area by dedicating himself or herself to the youth of the community, especially in sports.
“The recipient embodies the meaning of outstanding sportsmanship, inspired leadership andcaring service,” the plaque reads.
Andrews, a former coach at CCS and Richfield Springs, now is co-owner of the store Baseball Nostalgia next to Doubleday Field.
“The recipient of this award is honest, unselfish and shows good sportsmanship,” Dion Wade, director of the Clark Sports Center, said.
“This year’s winner embodies those qualities.”
Andrews, a ‘74 graduate of CCS, started coaching that same year. His friends and fellow coaches mentioned him as a man who would never turn down an assignment and who always cared about his athletes as people.
“Pat Fetterman and I spent many long years talking about the kids,” Andrews said. “That’s what it is about for me. Not about the Xs and Os, but about how we could help them.”
“I wish other coaches would get that. There are a lot smarter guys than me. But when someone comes back with their kid and says ‘this is my coach,’ that’s what it is about to me,” he added.
Andrews got choked up talking about his old friends who have passed on, Fetterman, former CCS basketball coach Dick White, and especially his former player at Richfield Springs, Gerald Romero, who died on the practice field in August of 1990.
It was Andrews who performed unsuccessful CPR on his fallen player.
“August 1990, that was when everything changed for me,” he said. At that point, he explained, wins and losses became secondary to grooming good people and allowing everyone the opportunity to play and enjoy sports.
Andrews left varsity sports last decade, but continued to coach modified sports, and then returned to Cooperstown soon after.
“People used to ask me how I could leave for Richfield. I’m from the day when you didn’t even dare date anyone from Richfield. But I always told them that if you gave me 11 garbage cans, we’ll go out and play football,” he said.
“Some of the girls (I coached) used to joke that it was like I had dual citizenship. I had the keys to (the school in) Cooperstown and the keys to Richfield. I think at one time I even had the keys to Mohawk,”he continued.
The reception was filled with former award winners and many of them spoke movingly about Andrews and his dedication to the children he coached and the communities he served.
“For too long your contributions to this community have been overlooked,” former CCS coach Don Howard said. “On behalf of Dick White and on behalf of myself, I just want you to know how much we appreciate you.”
The award has been given every year since 1993 in the name of the former Clark director. At least one past recipient noted the similarities between Andrews and Fetterman.
“Pat Fetterman, he was the father image you hope all your kids could hang around with,” CCS soccer coach Frank Miosek said. “He was a great youth leader.”