BLOOMFIELD, NJ — For more than three decades, the Bloomfield High School softball program has been guided by head coach Bob Mayer.
The Lady Bengals, under Mayer, have become one of the best programs in the county.
But it’s the end of an era. Mayer coached his final season this spring, his 33th.
Mayer was a physical education teacher in the district for 46 years before retiring at the end of the 2020-21 school year. Though he retired as a teacher, Mayer remained as the BHS softball coach this past spring.
In the season finale, Mayer’s final game, the Bengals defeated Belleville on May 23 to finish with an 11-14 record.
Mayer finished with 561 career wins. He also was the girls soccer head coach for 24 seasons, from 1988 to 2011, and had 183 wins as the soccer head coach. In all, Mayer’s 744 victories are the second most in BHS history, trailing only the legendary Bill Foley’s 793 wins, according to BHS athletic director Steve Jenkins.
Indeed, Mayer will be missed. He coached many great teams and players since he took over the helm in 1989.
Mayer, though, is still coaching the Bloomfield High School softball summer team. The team began its summer season on Monday, June 27, and will continue through July 20, competing against local teams.
Nevertheless, Mayer will miss coaching Bloomfield during the high school season.
“I’m definitely going to miss it,” he said in an interview with the Independent Press. “I still enjoy coaching, so I’m still going to stay active with it. (Coaching) is kinda like teaching, because you are teaching the kids (softball) too.”
Mayer was grateful for all the support he has received during his career.
“The town has been great to me,” he said. “(Coaching) is something that I really love to do. I enjoy the kids, the parents. I had a lot of great assistant coaches along the way, too. I’m glad they helped me so much. (Coaching) has always been fun to do and still is fun to do.”
One of the great players who Mayer coached was Kristen Gengaro, a 1996 BHS graduate and two-time all-state pitcher who also played soccer for Mayer, in addition to lettering in basketball.
In an email to the Independent Press, Gengaro wrote about what a strong influence Mayer had on her. “John Wooden of the (UCLA) Bruins once said, ‘A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.’ And I think all of Coach Mayer’s players would be able to reflect on ways he impacted our lives for the better. Some of the richest memories from my athletic career were on that field with Coach Mayer, alongside some of the most talented and inspiring women that I’ve ever had the honor of playing with. I remain grateful to Coach Mayer for creating a positive and supportive environment, and for always believing in me and our team.”
Photos Courtesy of Jerry Simon.