OV picks former coach to lead boys’ soccer team
BRANDON — When changing circumstances recently led Otter Valley Union High School boys’ soccer coach Muffie Harvey to decide to step down from the post she had held for the past four seasons, OV activities director Steve Keith found an experienced hand waiting to take over.
Former OV girls’ soccer coach Dick Williams, a 48-year-old Pittsford resident who also has extensive club, junior varsity and varsity assisting experience, got the nod after what Keith called a successful — if quick — interview and application process.
“He’s very knowledgeable about the game,” Keith said. “We certainly felt that knowledge base, the technical skills and the tactical ability he possesses and can teach, we just thought he was going to be a really good fit with the guys that we have and the guys that are coming.”
Keith said Harvey, whose teams won 15 games in her four years at the helm, reluctantly left the program for personal reasons.
“There have just been some things that have happened for her recently that have made the commitment of being here every day, with road trips and everything, it just wasn’t going to work this year,” he said.
Keith praised the “great rapport with and dedication to the kids” that Harvey brought to OV.
“She got them to play hard, and she was always a real positive person,” Keith said. “She had a good return rate and a good mindset for the kids coming in. They liked the physical condition they got in, and they really enjoyed playing for her.”
Williams’ similar enthusiasm and his soccer background bode well for the boys’ program moving forward, Keith said.
“He’s very much in it for the right reasons. He wants the boys to play well, and he has a program approach,” Keith said. “He’s very much looking forward to the future, not just this year, next year.”
Williams coached the OV girls’ team from 2005 to 2009 and remains that program’s most successful leader, compiling a 23-48-4 record that includes a 7-7 regular-season mark in 2005 that stands as the team’s best.
But his contract was not renewed by former OV AD Sumner Erbe, who sided with some parents who alleged that some team members were not enjoying their experience.
It was not a decision that Williams agreed with or welcomed, but he still was willing to assist the following two coaches, Dave Brown and current coach Rick Hedding. In the past five years since Williams was not retained, the OV girls have gone 9-62-3.
“I’ve been coaching in the community ever since I left,” said Williams, an electrical engineer who works for United Technologies Corp. in Vergennes. “I helped Dave Brown when he was doing it, and I helped Rick Hedding.”
In the past five years, Williams has also coached for two clubs based in Rutland, the Summit and IMX football clubs, following his son (now a varsity team member) through the U-10 up to the U-16 boys’ levels and coaching a U-14 girls’ team.
He said that experience has made him a better coach.
“I’m kind of a lifelong learner when it comes to this because I love it so much,” Williams said. “Since I left Otter Valley I’ve had the pleasure to work with a whole lot of other great coaches, and I learned from all of them. Every time I’m with them I pick up more things.”
He also coached a dozen years in Springfield before taking the OV job, leading the high school junior varsity girls’ soccer team before assisting its varsity team for four years.
Williams said he applied because he wants to bring his background back to OV.
“I think I have something to share,” Williams said. “I’m hoping I can bring something to the program.”
He hopes that a young OV team will progress in its ability to possess the ball and play together.
“We’re not going to do kick and run,” Williams said. “I like to see the boys passing the ball and working together.”
The Otters were young a year ago, and he believes they have a chance to take a step forward this fall.
“I think this group of boys has the opportunity to have a season they haven’t had in a bit of time,” Williams said.
He is also happy to have JV coach Ben Black and varsity assistant Roger Miro, who will also work with the goalies, on board for the first time this fall.
“They’re both very enthusiastic and right in line with me in what we’re trying to accomplish, so it looks to be a really exciting season,” Williams said.
And, of course, Williams said, his tenure will be about more than wins and losses.
“I hope at the end of the season the kids can look back and say they had a good time,” he said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].