Ursuline coach pulling rare double

It’s not shocking to hear of coaches being at the helm of multiple sports teams at the high-school level, but it’s not often an individual coaches two different teams during the same season.

Outside of track and cross country, where many are in charge of both the boys and girls teams, pulling double duty in the same sport season is a rare occurrence. In terms of area soccer, Ursuline’s Roy Schmidt is one of two brave souls who attempt to coach two teams at the same time, along with Canfield’s Phil Simone.

Schmidt has coached both the boys and girls Fighting Irish soccer programs for the past two years, leading the boys’ team for one season before the school asked him to take over the girls program as well.

Results have been mixed so far. The boys lost their first-round tournament match to Heartland Christian last season despite earning a fifth seed in the Austintown district, and this season, the Irish boys are 4-6-2.

The girls, meanwhile, are struggling, sitting at 4-7 according to Schmidt, but they’ve faced some strong opponents in Badger, Cardinal Mooney, Warren G. Harding and Niles, among others. Last season, the girls won their first match of the tournament against South Range in overtime before falling to United, 3-1.

While any individual who’s coached both sexes will say, Schmidt has learned quickly the different ways to coach both boys and girls, but he doesn’t mind it at all. He elaborated by saying he coaches with more of a “strong arm” to control the boys, while he uses a little more empathy with the girls.

After some time, though, he’s adapted a hybrid version as a coach around both teams, which has allowed him to switch seamlessly between the teams.

“You kind of wear two hats,” Schmidt said. “For any coach that’s coached boys and any coach that’s coached girls, if you’ve done both, you find that they’re two different dynamics. They tend to blend together a little bit, and you start to find a happy medium.”

Normally, Schmidt schedules both teams’ practices back-to-back in order to conduct it himself, but as can be expected, getting to practices for both teams is difficult during weeks where the schedule has a match for both teams combine for five matches in a six-day span.

At times like these, he knows he can count on his assistants – Lou Fusillo and Jose Urrutia for the boys and Brandon Fotiuk and Marissa Walker for the girls – to run practice.

“I have a wonderful coaching staff to assist me, whether it be the assistant coaches on the boys’ team when I’m with the girls or the assistant coaches on the girls’ team with the boys,” Schmidt said. “They’re running a great practice for me. That really helps out.”

Despite the time conflicts caused by both teams, there’s no doubt in Schmidt’s mind that he made the right decision in taking both coaching jobs.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Schmidt said. “I love coaching both (teams). It keeps me busy.”

He’s hoping they’ll keep him busy well into the month of October this season.