Butterflies and Hope: Jeff Cacciatore Retires After 27 Years at Whitfield 
by Zoe Zotos '24

By halftime of the 2022 State Semi-Final match, the score remained 1-1 as the varsity girls' soccer team played Mid Buchanan. The team's energy died down, the heat became overwhelming, and the desire to win was urgent. As the team huddled, Coach Cacciatore said, “ I saw a butterfly, and it landed right on my shoulder, and I knew at that moment we were going to win this game and the State Championship. My sister had passed away a couple of years ago, and one day, my family and I sat on our porch, all thinking to ourselves, "I wish she were here with us,” said Cacciatore. “Her favorite things were butterflies, and as my family and I listened to the peaceful sounds of nature, a butterfly landed on our porch. My sister was there then and is here with us now, which gives me hope.” 

After coaching and directing the Whitfield girl's soccer program for 27 years, history was made in 2022. Winning five District Titles on their backs and the first girl’s soccer State Championship in Whitfield's history- none would have been possible without Coach Cacciatore. In addition, Cacciatore has made significant contributions to Whitfield’s middle school science program by adding creativity and energy to such a complex subject. However, his time remaining at Whitfield is coming to a close as he retires after 27 years at Whitfield School.

Cacciatore is a retired American soccer player who played professionally in the North American Soccer League and the Major Indoor Soccer League. He was often referred to as the “speedy forward.” In 1979, Cacciatore signed with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and played indoor and outdoor seasons. After playing with the Strikers for a few years, Cacciatore moved to the St. Louis Steamers in 1981. His professional career ended six seasons later as he retired in 1987. However, Cacciatore’s talent and legacy remained as he was elected to the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame in 2013. In addition, Cacciatore has directed and coached Maryville University's soccer camp for 25 years. Zoe Zotos, a soccer player for the Whitfield girls' varsity soccer team who attended the camp in 2016 and 2017, said, “ I remember hearing about Cacciatore and his legacy as I entered the camp and was astonished. As a little girl, I never would've thought that five years later, the famous Cacciatore would be one of my teachers and coaching me in my high school years.”

Although Cacciatore is known for his love and passion for soccer, there is more to his unique story. Cacciatore began teaching for the science department at Whitfield School in 1991. As students within Whitfield pass his room, you can see the creativity and fun he adds to science. With various projects hanging from the ceilings or experiments being done, having fun while learning was always the main goal for his students. Furthermore, his ability to push every student to their fullest potential, whether in the classroom or on the field, is a gift.

After 27 years in the Whitfield community and significantly impacting many lives, it will be the hardest goodbye for those he leaves behind. Still, Cacciatore's hope, perseverance, and love will never be forgotten. 

“He is one of the chillest dudes I have ever met. He is always calm; if anybody around here is entitled to an ego, it would be him, but he has none,” said assistant coach Rick Gamp. Sara Ringe, the head of the upper school, said, “ His humility and calm demeanor is genuinely inspiring. He is the type of guy who is calm in any and every situation.”  

Unfortunately, Cacciatore is saying goodbye to the Whitfield community; as Gamp says, “You can catch a fish, but you can’t Cacciatore.” For some, he will be remembered for his humility, but for the girls on the varsity soccer team, it will always be butterflies and hope. 

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Spring 2024

The Odyssey is a student-run newspaper that empowers students to be heard on issues, passions, concerns, and experiences. We are committed to serving and representing our school through the pursuit of curiosity, integrity, and truth.

Editor: Lucy Heidenry

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