Marmion coach O’Connor steps aside
What makes this morning’s Columbus Day match more notable for Marmion soccer isn’t it being the home finale. It will be the last time Kevin O’Connor coaches the Cadets at Fichtel Field.
As athletics director Joe Chivari said last week when O’Connor revealed that this — his 16th season — would be his last, “You can’t leave, you’re like a piece of furniture.”
To which O’Connor replied with his traditional Irish wit: “I guess I’ve been called worse.”
“Seriously, I consider myself the luckiest man on earth. I have a wonderful family, a most rewarding career that has never felt like I had a job,” O’Connor said. “I’m so thankful for the blessings God has bestowed on Kevin O’Connor. From sixth grade on, I told my parents, teachers, anyone, I want to be a teacher and a coach. I believed my mission on earth was to have an influence in shaping young lives in a positive way. That’s a vocation, not a job. I just hope that in some small way, I’ve been faithful to that mission and succeeded to some measure.”
When his oldest son enrolled at Marmion, O’Connor helped the Cadets start the program in 1994. What has followed is a lifetime of memories and a ton of success with O’Connor boasting a 246-104-36 career record — .684 winning percentage — going into this morning’s 10 a.m match with Oswego.
Under his tutelage, Marmion has produced 10 Division I players and another 35 who’ve played collegiately at Divisions II and III plus NAIA programs.
Marmion’s current players view themselves as fortunate to have played for the coach.
“The first thing you think of with Cadet soccer is coach O’Connor. He is the program,” Alex Ruble said. “His coaching has expanded my game, given me a lot more confidence in my ability to play at a higher level.”
“He’s a father figure to all of us,” Mick Maley added. “I am so sad to see him go only because he’s made soccer so much more enjoyable for so many players. Its incredible how many alumni have contacted me having heard the news. He stays in contact with everyone, it’s just part of how he cares and makes it part of a brotherhood.
“We’d all do anything for him and as much as we’re happy for him, it’s sad to know such a great career is coming to an end. I know it’s not enough, but I hope we can honor him with how we play.”
“Coach started the program and there’s never been a losing record, that says so much,” Mike Frasca noted. “He’s helped Maley and me with the college process and has driven me to be the best I can. It’s a loss not just for Marmion, but the entire area.”
“I love coach O’Connor,” Joe Romanos stated. “He’s the father of the Marmion program in so many ways. He made my transition into the program easy and he’s always there to support us, not just athletically, but academically and personally. He has a presence on a personal level with everyone he has come in contact with.”
Rather than a piece of furniture, Kevin O’Connor’s impact and legacy is clearly part of the bricks and mortar of Marmion.