By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — It’s team spirit on and off the field.
For the Pinkerton Academy boys soccer team, it’s also about helping one of their own.
The team is using one practice day a week to reach out to the widows of two prominent Pinkerton faculty members. They will help with chores and yard work.
Ralph Van Nostrand and Bill Cofrin, faculty members and popular coaches at Pinkerton, both died within the past year.
Last week, 19 players arrived at Nancy Cofrin’s 25-acre property in Londonderry to help her with yard cleanup, stacking and splitting firewood, and whatever else needed to bedone.
The team will alternate between the Cofrin and Van Nostrand homes each week.
For Cofrin, having the Pinkerton soccer team at her home was a godsend as her list of tasks was quite long.
“I put on my thinking cap,” she said. “These are all the main jobs I can’t do.”
Those jobs including transplanting perennials, washing off a camper, and splitting and stacking firewood.
Astro coach Kerry Boles spoke highly of his best friend, Bill Cofrin, and said it was the least his team could do to help.
“Bill was a compassionate, caring and loyal person, who helped anyone in need,” Boles said of his longtime friend. “He not only coached, but also provided guidance and direction for many kids, not just athletes, who were struggling personally or academically, and was always willing to help.”
Cofrin is a 39-year veteran registrar at Pinkerton. She said it was a humbling act and she was very appreciative.
“I’m not used to being the recipient,” she said. “It’s just awesome.”
She said the school community rallied while her husband was sick, hosting fundraisers to help support her family and being there to help her cope.
“That’s why Pinkerton Academy means so much to me,” she said. “It’s the people that make the place.”
Ryan Williams was happy to help. The Pinkerton senior helped move some large plants from one location to another. He remembered his former teacher.
“I had him for a half study and he always made the class laugh,” he said. “I looked forward to it and I was sad to hear about him.”
Sophomore Josh Johnson said Cofrin was a nice man who always thought of others.
“He just helped everyone and it’s a shame he’s gone,” he said.
Junior Cameron Burke said he was happy to help the Cofrin family.
“I just thought it would be a good idea,” he said. “(Ms. Cofrin) has been through a rough time.”
Soccer players also headed across the road from Cofrin’s home to help her parents, Gene and Joan Fontaine.
Boles said his team has done many community service projects through the years. This one truly helped put things into perspective.
“They are a good group of kids are there was no hesitation to help Nancy when I asked the team,” Boles said. “I know we lost a day of practice and we have some very difficult games coming up, but this is life and soccer is a game.”
Boles said the past year has been tough on the school.
“But Pinkerton is a better place because of Bill and Ralph,” he said. “I miss my friends.”