January 13, 2017
Broadbent’s big honor brings back memories of a sportswriter’s very first soccer championship game
By Michael Lewis
Ron Broadbent, circa 1981, when he coached Brockport State after having a successful career at Spencerport High.
Photo by Deborah M. Bernstein
LOS ANGELES -- You always remember your first time.
I certainly do -- my very first soccer championship game.
No, it wasn't MLS Cup or North American Soccer League's Soccer Bowl.
It was a high school sectional confrontation for all the marbles, a game that pit a pair of powerhouses against one another -- Spencerport vs. Penfield -- at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, N.Y.
That happened so many years ago, on a Saturday morning -- Nov. 9, 1974 to be exact -- when Ron Broadbent's Spencerport side defeat George Steitz's Penfield team.
Yes, that’s the same Ron Broadbent who will be honored with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's highest award, the Honor Award, at the organization's annual banquet Friday night.
Broadbent, a lifetime soccer man, is a deserved recipient, having been involved in the beautiful game seemingly forever and at several levels. Besides turning Spencerport into a soccer juggernaut, he also guided Brockport State for three years and served the NSCAA for 16 years, including as president.
That is the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
I must admit, I know Broadbent mostly as a coach, a pretty damn good one, and that's fine with me.
Not surprisingly, the game was a tense, tight affair pitting the best of Class A sides in Section 5, a humongous area that includes Rochester and several counties south all the way to the Pennsylvania border.
And not surprisingly, the game was decided on a controversial play, which a 22-year-old sportswriter only five months out of college had to make sense of.
The controversy was set up when the Rangers' Rick Kincaid collided with Penfield goalkeeper Roy Riley with 4:05 remaining in the opening half.
"I gambled on that play," Kincaid told me that day. "The ball was there, but nobody but Spencerport was. You can't let an opportunity go by like that. I hit it in with my body.
The ball barely crossed the goal line, but it crossed the threshold.
Broadbent said he thought "there was simultaneous contact. The referees were right on the play. It was only two feet across the line, but it was a score."
(By the way, manning the Rangers' goal was Jeff Farnsworth, who served the NSCAA for many years as its awards committee chairman and currently is a vice president).
Several days later Broadbent invited me over to the school so I can watch film of the play. Yes, that's right, film; not video. This happened a few years before VCRs were sold to the public.
I forgot how many times Broadbent replayed that play, but it was quite a few.
I wasn't convinced that Kincaid didn't deserve a foul on the play wasn't but I give Broadbent a lot of credit for allowing me to watch the play again and again and again.
That told me what kind of character the man had then and still has.
I got to know Broadbent better through the years, covering the Brockport State soccer team and then seeing him at each NSCAA convention, including the year he was president.
On Friday night, I will see him again. This time on the stage, accepting his deserved honor, the prestigious Honor Award as I honor his fabulous achievement with my presence.