Forever Bleeding Red and Blue: Coach Botkin’s Legacy

Mei Dotzler, Editor

If you could describe the definition of loyal in two words, it would without a doubt be this: Steve Botkin.

Coach Botkin at the Hall of Fame Ceremony alongside mom Clara Botkin who’s also in the Cougar Hall of Fame.

Inducted into the Cougar Hall of Fame this past Saturday, Coach Botkin felt “honored” as he watched his fellow friends and mentors pay homage to one of the most exceptional coaches Sahuaro has ever seen. “This feels amazing. I mean, this school means the world to me and I don’t think I could ever give back to Sahuaro what it’s given me. I really couldn’t,” Coach Botkin says as he holds the new shiny gold Cougar trophy that reads “Hall of Fame” on it.

Everyone knows the Coach. And I’d bet money that there’s not a single person who doesn’t like him. I’d never formally met him until our interview and just in those short 20 minutes, I figured out why he’s everyone’s favorite person on campus.

With a natural way of making you feel like you matter as a student, whether he knows you personally or not, he is the epitome of compassion, radiating that comfort towards anyone, no matter if you are faculty, a student, or parent. That’s why everyone likes him so much; he’s got your back.

So it makes sense why he has an office full of trophies and has won the title of “Coach of the Year” and even “Coach of the Decade” 10 times over. And that he has over 550 career wins and a State Championship. What he does matters and wholeheartedly impacts everyone he comes into contact with. Of course, he’s modest, and won’t take all the credit…but we know. And we admire him wholeheartedly for it.

Being a Cougar for half his life, starting from when he graduated from Sahuaro in 1986, Coach Botkin started teaching in 2000, originally at Rincon but immediately moved back to Sahuaro as soon as a position opened up. He taught PE and Driver’s Ed for 15 years, one of his favorite things he’s ever done. “I loved it and the kids loved it. I got to meet almost every kid at Sahuaro.”

Approaching his 21st year, he’s now the head of the athletics department, while still maintaining his one true passion: coaching. When I asked him what’s kept him here so long, he paused and took a second to think about it. “Working with such a fine group of educators and seeing how much they care has kept me here. You know, we’re not here for the paycheck. We all care too much, whether that be a good thing or bad thing, but it’s about the kids. It’s always been about the kids.”

Celebrating the Girl’s State Championship Basketball team.

Staying in one place for so long inevitably leads to so many unforgettable memories, some just leaving that lasting impression. “Something I’ll never forget is when we honored the 2019 state championship runner-up team, and afterward we had dinner and talked with one another and just that camaraderie; it was a really cool moment. To hear how they’ve been doing and how successful they’ve become and the fact that they would include me in that. It was… a very rewarding experience.”

There’s nothing else to say besides Coach Botkin is an all-around icon. His influence reaches so much further than just athletes, garnering well-deserved respect across the entire board. He finds it humbling knowing he’s impacted so many people.

“I just want to say that when the going gets tough, don’t give up. We’re going through really hard times right now and I want to be there to support everyone. To lead young people. Just hang in there,” he says as a little piece of advice to those who need it, looking for that pat on the back to just keep moving forward.

At this point, I think the real question is how do we thank Coach Botkin for all HE’S done for Sahuaro.

Frankly, I don’t think there are enough words.