Men’s Assistant Coach’s Football Journey to the Top

Two teammates embrace after the Bears beat North Park University #12 3-2 in September. The men’s soccer team may win the IAAF Championship by defeating the University of Chicago on Saturday. (Photo by Emmett Campbell/Student Life)

nAssistant coach of men’s soccer at the University of Washington Oscar Omar It changed the rules of the game for the Bears this season as the team battles for its first AAA title since 1999.

Omar’s journey to Washoe reflects the talent, determination and deep love for football that has made him an asset to the Bears this season.

“He’s been driving from day one,” said sophomore John Daniels. She’s like, ‘It’s getting sharper. We work professionally. We will train like the first team.”

Omar joined the coaching staff in April 2021 and came out with a full resume: a four-letter athlete at Villanova University, a member of the 2012 All-Big-East Third Team, an All-Big East AP Preseason pick in 2013, and that’s just the university. Omar, a former professional football player with the then USL Championship Richmond Kickers and most recently St. Louis FC, has achieved what many have been dreaming of.

His journey began in Tamale, Ghana, where he was born and raised in a large family, and helped his father in farming. In Tamale, Omar fell in love with football for the first time, and his kick with friends in the neighborhood developed his ambition to rise to the top.

While Omar fell in love with football, several European countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom set up academies in Ghana in hopes of graduating the upcoming great African football stars. Entering the academies was very competitive, but Omar’s chance finally came when he was accepted into Tom Vernon’s Academy (now called Right to Dream Academy).

Despite his success, Omar acknowledged that he could not have gotten to Vernon on his own. Specifically, he attributed his success to his older brother, who played for Team Fire, a Dutch team with an academy in Ghana. His brother left Tamale to attend the academy in southern Ghana. “When he had to leave the house and stay there when he had the opportunity, it motivated me. I started taking football very seriously and did all the little extra work to get better myself,” Omar said.

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Omar takes the first step towards his footballing ambition and goes to Southern Ghana to attend Vernon. After four years of hard work, both in the field and in the classroom, Omar had the opportunity to travel to the United States to attend Kent School, a private boarding school in Connecticut. There, Omar continued his education and dreamed of becoming a professional football player. But despite Vernon’s willingness to play soccer in the United States, the Kent school culture shock, he recalls, was enormous. Kent School, located on Connecticut’s western front, challenges young Omar.

“I’m not going to lie, there were some challenges,” he said. “But with support I was able to beat them.” The weather in Kent was cooler than in Ghana. He remembers the time he played a game in late November when he realized how cold Connecticut really was. “In the first half I went to the dressing room and went to the bathroom because I couldn’t feel my hand,” he said. So I went to the closet to turn on the hot water [for my hands]And that was painful.”

Although the transition to life in the United States was difficult, Omar’s career at Kent was successful. In his three years, he led The school played its first playoff game in more than two decades, and appeared in the New England Prep Finals in 2009 and 2010. After graduating from Kent, Omar was offered a scholarship to play at Villanova, which he gladly accepted.

During his four years at Villanova, Omar achieved great success. He started most of his games during his time with the Wildcats and helped with that. After graduating from college, Omar’s main goal was to be recruited by one of the Major League Soccer clubs, but a lack of interest and two failed attempts led him to find another path.

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Omar got a job at IBM, but it was not enough for him. Football was his passion. He felt that he did not belong in the office environment.

In 2017, his hard work finally paid off when he signed his first professional contract with the Richmond Kickers. “I fell for choice” [to play another year]. After that season, they loved me, so they signed me for the 2018 season.

[Meet one of the men’s soccer team’s other stars: Junior Sergio Rivas]

But when the Kickers decided to join USL One, the third tier of the American and Canadian Football League, Omar decided to move to St. Louis FC for the 2019 season, as he wanted to compete for the USL Championship. Thanks to his talent, the transition to St. Louis Club was smooth. But after joining, he said, “The epidemic and a lot of infections… really affected me [my game]. Omar was already an assistant coach at the University of Cabrini in Pennsylvania, and had begun to think a bit more about his coaching career, so last April, when it opened in Washoe, Omar was ready.

“Oscar is charismatic and always has a smile on his face. He’s not fake, he’s happy,” said Joe Clark, Washoe men’s soccer coach. “He has done a good job building relationships and has a good approach with the players. He has a lot of situations with them when he comments because he is very relevant, modern and experienced.”

Clark described the coaching relationship as a partnership. “I see our collaboration very horizontal. It’s not vertical, I don’t dictate it,” he said. “He is capable and has good experience. He runs good sessions with portions of his sessions. I know we don’t have to worry about that and we should be on the same page in the same direction.”

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The sessions that Omar led seemed to be the joke of the team. The team “likes to joke around with him and warm up… so [they are] like fitness sessions [that] We always get tired, but he laughs about it,” Daniels said. “We all respect him. That goes a long way.”

Seniors Armando Sanchez Conde and Nao Yanese shared similar views on Omar.

“He’s like a wise old man in the body of a 28-year-old,” Sanchez Conde said. “One moment you see him as a friend, but the next moment he is an old sage with a lot of wisdom and a lot of energy.”

“Oscar is one of the nicest guys I know. In practice or during matches, I always feel like I can only talk to him when I feel like I want to get his opinion on something or if I have questions about certain things,” Yanez said. “Even outside football I feel I can easily get close to him to talk about personal matters.”

Sanchez Conde said the players’ ultimate goal is to continue to build the kind of friendship with Omar that extends beyond the field. “Maybe when we graduate…we’re old…we can all go out to dinner together or something,” he said.

The Washoe community is clearly lucky with Omar. His experience playing professionally has been an asset to the team, and as the Bears prepare for their first playoff game since 2016, they will need him on the sidelines if they are to perform at the level they have provided all season. he is [been] “A huge part of our success, that’s what we all believe in and we’ve had a great season,” Daniels said. “We’re constantly trying to finish the season strong and Oscar plays a big role in that.”

More on the men’s soccer team’s best season in years:

Men’s football dominates Milliken’s team in the last extra time of the UAE Federation matches

Why Sergio Rivas, who leads men’s soccer with four goals in three games, says he peaked in high school

Men’s football wardrobe ranks ninth after beating Rochester

Megan Vasquez

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