Cementon Athletic Association coach Steve Nemeth knows there is no column in the score book for emotions and surprises, only numbers and names of players and teams, wins and losses.
However, Nemeth realizes emotions of his players and surprises have a role in sports, a factor to a coach that’s as important as the Xs and Os.
So when Nemeth walked into the Cementon A.A. on Saturday afternoon, he was more than surprised he was the guest of honor, not for a birthday party for his sister like he expected.
“Oh my God,” Nemeth muttered as he entered the hall with loud applause from his family, present and former players who played on his girls basketball and softball teams, as well as assistant coaches and numerous well-wishers.
After 21 years, the 56-year-old coach is retiring.
Wearing his ever-present baseball cap with the letter “C,” Nemeth mostly kept his emotions in check, although spilling over when conversing with the girls he coached, and the crowd of well-wishers. They all said Nemeth taught them more than just the game. His avid passion at practice and games for the girls was to give them confidence to excel.
“As a coach I was preparing the girls for the next level,” Nemeth said.
Although his girls have won softball and basketball championships, Nemeth said he does not look to the numbers of such triumphs - it was the girls who brought home the hardware.
The pleasure, Nemeth said, comes when past or current players approach him and greet him with a “Hi coach.”
“Tough but fair,” commented his daughters, Nicole and Brianna, of their dad coaching them.
Brianna, 31, recalled a 2001 practice he didn’t appreciate her talking.
“I had to run suicides, for the whole hour of practice, before my dad realized he forgot to tell me to stop,” Brianna said.
“We learned a lot from our dad, softball, basketball and soccer,” Katie said.
Nemeth coached soccer at Tri-Boro from 1999 to 2002, coached CYO basketball at then Our Lady of Hungary School, Northampton where he played basketball in grade school.
Nemeth also coached at Hokendauua and Whitehall Middle School, including this past season.
“He coached me harder,” Katie recalled of her father, eventually becoming his assistant coach at the middle school.
Dave Dreisbach, who played with Nemeth while at Our Lady of Hungary, and later was an assistant CYO basketball coach for Nemeth, said, “Coach was tough and really had the knowledge of the game which made the players better.”
Nemeth serves as a member of the Whitehall Township Recreation Commission and remains active with the Cement Belt Fair, representing Cementon A.A.