Ryan Osmer hasn’t really had much of a chance to make a name for himself as a boys soccer coach. Then again, he has a ready-made name, and what a big name it is.
Osmer’s grandfather on his father’s side, the late Dick Osmer, was Mr. Southold Soccer, a coaching legend. Figuring there wasn’t much of a future for the six-man football that was being played in the area at the time, he started the Southold boys soccer program in 1957.
The First Settlers didn’t win a game or even score a goal that first year, but success was on its way. Records aren’t available for Dick Osmer’s coaching career. However, during the time that he coached Southold, from 1957 to 1980, his teams won at least seven state championships and well over 100 games, according to his son, Rick Osmer. Dick Osmer was also inducted into the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame. The Richard M. Osmer Memorial Fields in Southold are named after him.
It is on those same fields where Dick Osmer once coached where his grandson, Ryan Osmer, 23, is following in the family tradition by embarking on a coaching career of his own. Ryan Osmer is the new coach of the Southold Junior High School team. The team was 6-1 heading into Wednesday’s game against Westhampton Beach. (Southold’s only loss was to East Moriches, 3-2, in overtime.) Although Ryan Osmer had coached Central Virginia United, a select team in Virginia, this is his first school coaching job. He said he is deriving almost as much joy from the game as a coach as he did as a player.
“I feel like I had experience before I even became a coach,” he said. “I just feel like teaching and coaching is in my blood, and I’m happy where I am. I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be.”
The Osmer name echoes over soccer fields throughout the North Fork and Shelter Island. Ryan Osmer’s father, Rick Osmer, who is currently the Shelter Island athletic director, played goalkeeper for Southold before graduating in 1974. He went on to play for Lynchburg College in Virginia and was inducted into that school’s athletic hall of fame.
Ryan Osmer’s uncle, Craig Osmer, is also a former Southold player. He has coached the boys soccer teams at Greenport, Mattituck, Southold and Shelter Island.
Ryan Osmer was a three-year varsity player and right midfielder for Southold, who graduated from high school in 2006. “There’s a lot of old memories here,” he said during a practice last week. He didn’t play college soccer, but he attended the same college his father did.
And now, Ryan Osmer is following in his father’s footsteps once again by entering the coaching world.
“I think it’s an awesome experience, and I hope to coach for the rest of my life,” he said. “It’s great being able to teach somebody something and seeing it unfold on the field. I know everyone says that, but it is an amazing experience just seeing your words in actions.”
Ryan Osmer never got the chance to meet his grandfather, who was 59 when he died several months before Ryan was born, but Ryan has heard stories about him countless times.
“That’s all I ever heard about,” Ryan Osmer said. “I’d say, ‘I’m Ryan Osmer,’ and they’d go, ‘Oh, oh, everyone loved your grandpa.’ And that’s all I heard about was your grandfather was so great and all these great things, and I was like I wish I could meet him and I wish he could see me.”
“It’s cool and it’s sad at the same time because I wish I met him,” he continued. “All I hear is amazing things, and I’ve seen videos of him. He seemed like a hilarious, awesome guy.”
Dick Osmer was described as a coach who was ahead of his time. He organized soccer leagues for students to play during recess as well as indoor soccer programs for winter weekends. Rick Osmer said his father’s teams didn’t play run-and-gun soccer, but utilized tight angles and runs that have since become commonplace in the game.
Rick Osmer said it’s too early for him to see his father’s coaching traits in his son, but he has noticed that Ryan is more patient and is not as vocal as Dick Osmer was.
Is coaching in the genes?
“I just think if you’re around coaches your whole life, you pick up a lot,” Rick Osmer said. “I don’t think [Ryan] knows any other lifestyle.”
So, what is it like having a big name in a small town? If Ryan Osmer feels that he has a lot to live up to, he hasn’t said so.
“I like the fact that I have the name,” he said. “It’s comforting.”
Speaking of his late grandfather, Ryan Osmer said: “I hope he’s proud of me. I wish I met him, but I’m happy to have the last name.”