Girls Soccer

O’Leary ready to lead Ross girls soccer program

ROSS TWP. — Patrick O’Leary didn’t realize how much he missed coaching high school soccer until he wasn’t actually coaching it.

That only took him a year to figure out.

“Last year was my first year off in 25 years of coaching,” O’Leary said. “It was a little different. I was a little bored. I basically wanted to see what it would feel like to take a fall off of coaching.

“When the Ross position opened up, I said, ‘Yep, I’m ready.’ I was definitely ready to get back into it.”

O’Leary was hired as the Ross girls soccer coach — pending school board approval Thursday — taking over for Jessica Buehner, who led the Rams to a 7-7-2 record this past fall.

Ross won three straight Southwest Ohio Conference titles before winning the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern title in its first season in the conference. The Rams had a 44-18-9 record in that span.

“I don’t want to mess anything up,” O’Leary said of Ross’ success. “One of my first goals once I’m approved is to meet with seniors and talk to them — pick their brains about traditions to make sure that I’m maintaining them. I want to know if there is anything that I can improve upon.”

O’Leary has been a history teacher within the Fairfield City School District for 28 years and a coaching staple for the Fairfield Optimist Soccer Club organization since 2005.

He was an assistant coach for the Fairfield boys soccer team under Chad Reed — his neighbor and best friend — for 10 seasons before taking over the Fairfield girls soccer head coaching duties from 2011 to 2021.

The Fairfield girls program went 104-34-27 under his leadership — including three Greater Miami Conference championships and two district titles. He most recently helped out at Oak Hills before taking a season off.

“I was very fortunate. Like I’ve said to people, I’m just part of these programs. My puzzle piece is no bigger than anybody else’s,” O’Leary said. “I’m blessed to have had fantastic athletes. My assistant coaches have been phenomenal, the parents, training staff, athletic directors, everyone.

“We had some great success at Fairfield, and that’s something I’m very proud of.”

O’Leary said the selling point in accepting the position was because he has numerous Ross players he currently coaches within the FOSC organization.

“Having those kids and those families from Ross is going to be great,” O’Leary said. “People always asked me, ‘Hey, if you ever get back into it, would you want to?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’

“This was that moment. And I live 10 minutes away, too.”

O’Leary said not much will change in terms of his coaching philosophy. The focus will be putting the Ross girls soccer team first.

“I’m going to get the kids to buy in and love each other,” he said. “I know it sounds corny, but you want to create an environment where kids thoroughly enjoy and love coming to practice and games. I want our kids to go out there encouraged and be creative.

“You want kids to recognize that you care about them outside of soccer as well. I put things into perspective. I’ll never question effort. Just don’t let me get upset over that.”

O’Leary hopes opposing teams will see his team play with grit and passion.

“That’s something that’s so important,” O’Leary said. “You want to have kids who are willing to battle. I always tell the kids that they’re going to have so many chances to make mistakes. It’s always about how do we recognize them, and what do we do when we make them.

“I want to have a kid who will make a mistake and want to correct an error,” O’Leary added. “That’s what I’m looking for. We’re going to defend properly — get back into position, get behind the ball and pressure it. We need to communicate. Then offensively, we can put the ball into the back of the net. I tell the kids there’s no such thing as a bad shot. If you never shoot, you’ll never score.

“If we can do those things, it should be hard for teams to beat us.”

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