Peter Goff insists his first nod as Kane County Chronicle Softball Coach of the Year will double as his last one.
Not directly, of course, but with his firm hold that he has no intention of shedding his “interim” tag after one season at Kaneland.
Goff, the school’s athletic director, enjoyed banner success in 2015. Four-plus months after stepping into the role after predecessor Brian Willis wasn’t retained, Goff led the Knights to a 25-9 record and a third-place finish in Class 3A, the first state trophy in program history.
“He was just huge this year,” Knights junior third baseman Meg Cohrs said. “I mean, he’ll say all day that it wasn’t him, it was the girls. And it was us. We worked really hard. Angie (Morrow) worked really hard. [Paige Kuefler] hit the snot out of the ball all year. But without his support, we wouldn’t have been here.”
Goff grinned through the East Peoria mugginess while presenting each player with her third-place medal late Saturday morning.
That expression seldom left his face this spring regardless of his team’s condition or those outdoors.
To be sure, the season was often figuratively sunny for Kaneland, which rolled to a Northern Illinois Big 12 East title before earning postseason hardware at regionals at Lemont, sectionals at Montini and the Rosemont 1 supersectional. The upbeat Goff, who coached at Ashton-Franklin Center and Sterling before advancing in his administrative career, offered an encouraging presence throughout.
“I think he did a really good job this year,” junior left fielder Courtney Davis said. “Kind of sad that this is probably going to be his last year, but he did a great job.”
There’s no “probably” in the way Goff credited his players and fifth-year assistant Mike Kuefler, father of senior catcher Paige Kuefler, the KCC Player of the Year.
“Everyone on this team, the players, the coaches, the trainer, pulled everything together this season,” Goff said. “It was incredible. Sometimes, it felt like all I had to do was show up.”
Goff’s early summer workdays now include a softball coaching search, but Goff knows he’ll beam about the 2015 Knights for as long as he’s associated with IHSA athletics.
The thought of this team’s legacy elicits yet another smile.
“Just the athletes and the people that have come out of Kaneland is unbelievable,” Goff said. “I’ll just tell you, that’s going to be something special for them for the rest of their lives.”