Lenox Girls Soccer, Ski Coach Zinchuk Relocates to Eastern Mass
LENOX, Mass. -- Kyle Zinchuk will not have a chance to help the Lenox girls soccer team try to get back to the state semi-finals.
But that was not the hardest part of his decision to leave the school.
“We have our normal preseason meeting, which we decided to do as a video meeting, and that was difficult,” Zinchuk said of the moment he told his players he was moving east to take a teaching job at Dedham High School. “I would have loved to have done it in person with all of them, but the situation being what it is, it wasn’t possible.
“It was a long meeting. I was a bit of a mess during it.”
Zinchuk who teaches biology, said he had been thinking about making a move since last year when his girlfriend took a job at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
“I was applying to a few different places in the spring, and I found a place at Dedham I thought I’d fit in well at,” he said. “I didn’t know for sure I’d be leaving until almost the end of the spring, really.”
By that time, Lenox, like schools throughout the commonwealth, was doing everything remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It took a global pandemic to keep Zinchuk off the sidelines.
For the last seven years, he has coached soccer in the fall, cross country skiing in the winter and track and field in the spring for the Millionaires, serving as head coach for the first two sports.
On the soccer pitch, his Lenox teams went to four of the last five Western Massachusetts title games, winning the section last November and going to the Division 4 Final Four. The Millionaires won five Berkshire County Southern Division titles in that span, going undefeated in the division four straight times.
In the winter, Lenox’s girls won the 2020 State Championship after knocking on the door for a couple of years.
“When I was skiing [as a student-athlete at Lenox], the girls and boys were winning championships,” Zinchuk said. “When I came back and coached, we were in the middle of the pack again, finishing seventh or eighth at states. The last few years, Joe Bazzano and myself and all the other coaches helped bring it back to where this year the girls were able to win the whole thing, and the boys were right there, finishing second.
“That’s also made it really difficult to be leaving -- difficult, but I also feel OK about it because I feel like I’m leaving the program in a good spot.”
As with the Nordic team, the girls soccer squad built toward last fall’s sectional championship over a number of years.
“When I started soccer, the girls had just come off back-to-back Western Mass championships, but our first couple of years were rough,” Zinchuk said. “It’s nice to see the progress and see the effects of us building the program we wanted to see.
“With the group of kids there now, you can see their attitudes and mentalities reflect what we’ve been trying to develop the last seven years.”
Zinchuk’s girls soccer team won just four games each of his first two seasons, but it posted double-digit wins each of the next five.
“Multiple girls have gone on through his program to play Division II and II soccer in college, and one even Division I,” said Zinchuk’s long-time assistant, Brain Seminara. “Many more have grown into scholars and young professionals. Kyle didn't just teach soccer, he literally and figuratively taught the person -- in the classroom and how to be a young adult -- by teaching life lessons through sports.”
Seminara, a two-sport coach himself, will help provide some continuity in the girls soccer program.
“Brian is going to be staying on in some capacity,” Zinchuk said. “That makes me feel a whole lot better about the situation.”
Zinchuk said he wants to get back into coaching in some capacity, even if it means helping out on a volunteer basis. But for now, he has a lot on his plate: getting the feel for a new school and -- like teachers across the nation -- getting ready for a September like none have seen before.
“I think last April and May when, as teachers, we all had to shift into this situation rather quickly, it was kind of trial by fire,” Zinchuk said of the switch to remote learning due to the pandemic. “It was really flying by the seat of your pants. Now, we’ve had more time to plan things out and figure it out and make it more effective if we have to go remote.”
While he settles into his new job, Zinchuk also has had a chance to take time and think about his old accomplishments.
“I was so busy with each season every year because doing three seasons every year for seven or eight years, I was always getting ready for the next one,” he said. “It really didn’t give me a chance to sit back and reflect on each season. The last few weeks, I’ve been able to look back and think about my time at Lenox as a whole.
“It’s really been a blast and a wild ride.”