Young at Heart: Volunteer Assistant Coach John Pietrowski



One fixture on the sideline for Mercer men’s soccer has been Volunteer Assistant Coach John Pietrowski or as his players call him “Coach Pize.”  Pietrowski has been an Assistant for the Mercer men’s soccer program since 1994.  He has been a part of 430 wins and has not seen a losing season in 29 years.  Pietrowski has helped the MCCC men’s soccer program to three national titles (1995, 1996, 2004), 14 trips to the National Tournament and coached 27 All-Americans. 


In 2018, Pietrowski was inducted into the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Hall of Fame, the 11 th contributor to earn this honor.  Pietrowski was inducted to both the Mercer County Soccer Hall of Fame and the Northern Highlands Regional High School Hall of Fame in 2014.  Pietrowski coached at Northern Highlands for 27 years.  While at Northern Highlands, Pietrowski won four state sectional titles, 16 league championships and was named Suburban Coach of the Year four times.  In 1989, Pietrowski was inducted into the New Jersey Soccer Coaches Hall of Fame and named to the Bergen County Boys Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame.  


While the above achievements are impressive, that may not be the most impressive thing about Coach Pize.  At 87 years young, Pietrowski is still making his way to the MCCC soccer field as a volunteer coach.  When asked why he keeps coming back, Pietrowski said “I can’t stop.  Honestly that’s why.  I started helping the MCCC program after I retired from teaching and coaching and I just want to keep doing this.”  Pietrowski also added that “it helps keep me young.”


Pietrowski enjoys being around the young men he coaches and wants to see them succeed.  “At this level we want to see them do well on the field, but we also want to watch them to grow up and be successful in life.  To be able to be a part of that process is pretty special."


Pietrowski is known for his expertise in strategy on the soccer field.  If you ever stand next to Coach Pize during a soccer game, you will hear this knowledge as he will point out where a pass should have gone, what a player should have done with the ball or where a player should be standing.  He is always coming up with strategies even when Mercer is not playing in a game he is watching.


At the practices he attends, Pietrowski will often call a team huddle and share his observations, wisdom and expertise.  Coach Pize is known for his sense of humor and has a way to convey his knowledge while mixing in stories to give the team some laughs and break up any tension or frustration the players may be experiencing at that moment.


Something many may not know about Pietrowski is that he is also an artist.  He has taken art classes at MCCC for years and made a painting of MCCC soccer coaches that used to be in the Press Box at the MCCC Soccer Stadium.  Once he started coaching at Mercer, Pietrowski began auditing art classes at MCCC and hasn’t been able to stop this hobby either.  Pietrowski has been able to take classes with renowned local artist and former professor Mel Leipzig.  After Leipzig retired, Pietrowski began taking classes with current professor Kyle Stevenson.  Pietrowski admitted his stroke with the brush isn’t as controlled as it used to be, but that hasn’t stopped him from attending his MCCC art classes and painting.


The 87 year old may be slowing down some, but is still finding time for two of his favorite things, soccer and art.  “As long as I can do this, I’ll keep doing it.  It keeps me young at heart.”  There’s a saying “Age is nothing but a number” and Coach Pize keeps proving that statement to be true.



  Coach Pize talking to the men's soccer team at a recent practice


Pietrowski with MCCC goalie Federico Gainotti during a break in practice



The heat doesn't stop Coach Pize from missing a game (with Head Coach Widmarc Dalce in 2022)



Even rain won't stop Pietrowski from missing a men's soccer practice



 Coach Pize in 2010