Updated: Dec 29, 2021
Fox Soccer Academy's growth continues with the appointment of the new DOC, Dean O'Leary.
Coach Dean holds a UEFA B license and played professionally in England for Cardiff City FC and represented his country Wales internationally. He brings along his experience at the Collegiate level in both Coaching and College Recruitment.
In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, he has coached at the Professional level at the NWSL with Skyblue FC (recently rebranded as GothamFC) as a Goalkeeper Coach and was part of the coaching staff that reached the Challenge Cup semi final in Utah.
Coach Dean has also coached at the premier club level coaching teams competing in high level showcase tournaments as well as their regular seasons.
"Throughout the last months we have been interviewing potential candidates in England and the USA. It is an amazing step forward into the right direction being able to have a DOC in place with the reputation and experience of Dean. We are on the same wavelength and represent the same values and vision on how to grow Fox Soccer Academy." FSA owner Raluca Fuchs reflecting on the new appointment.
We had the time for a short interview to catch up with Dean on his experience in the game and what expectations Fox Soccer Academy players can have moving forward.
You grew up playing soccer in England and have a professional playing background before moving to the US. What is your aspiration with youth development and how do you see the growth of soccer in the United States?
Firstly, soccer has grown exponentially in the United States over the last 5-10 years. The construction of soccer specific stadiums within the MLS has signified a clear intent from the main governing bodies that the sport is here to stay. The implementation of youth academy programs within MLS clubs is also a fantastic sign of the dedication and desire for this sport to not only succeed, but grow on both a domestic and international level. I genuinely believe we are now starting to see the benefits of these investments that begun 5-10 years ago, and should last for many years to come.
From my own perspective, I am looking to provide players with the tools to fulfill their potential within the sport. For some that may be playing in the high school team, for others they could be driven by a desire to play professionally or at the national level. Whatever a player's targets may be, I aim to give them the opportunity to achieve those dreams and help them become the most complete soccer player possible.
You have been the assistant coach at NWPSL team Sky Blue. How was your experience there?
Being part of Sky Blue FC was an amazing experience. Working with some of the best players in the country day in and day out allowed me to see how much they pushed themselves to reach the next level, whether it was a newly drafted player looking to break into the first team squad, or a player looking to improve herself to be called up to the National team. Their focus on everything from post-game recovery sessions, position specific programs after training and the breaking down of various elements of video analysis really allowed me to better understand how every player approached the different facets of the game.
We previously mentioned the investment within clubs connected to the MLS, sadly the funding and financial side of the NWSL is far below where it should be for any professional sport. Seeing the work ethic of people such as the General Manager and Director of Operations, working numerous roles every day really displayed the efforts to make the program the best it could possibly be, consistently going above and beyond their job requirements.
Whilst recent news related to head coaches in the NWSL has given the league a negative perspective, the players themselves epitomize the mindset and approach of elite level athletes. With a starting salary for drafted players as low as $22,000 it would be easy to understand why someone may decide to step away from the sport. The fact that these players put in long hours on the field each day and then volunteer their time towards numerous community projects truly speaks to their love of the sport. It is this level of love and dedication to their craft that I hope to instill and build within our players and staff here at FSA.
In your previous role you were director of college placement, how will that help our players at FSA?
For those in our program that are looking to continue to play at the collegiate level, it is always helpful to have coaches/contacts that can guide players along the correct college recruitment path. The process of becoming a collegiate student-athlete can be a tricky one, and it seems that the process begins earlier and earlier every year. Having experience of this process from both the college coach perspective, as well as that of a youth soccer coach, I am hoping to provide our players and parents with the appropriate guidance and information as they navigate the route to become a collegiate student-athlete.
You are joining FSA as the new DOC and have worked over the last weeks closely with CF, RGF and MS. What can we expect to happen in 2022?
Without giving away the programs future plans too early, there are a number of extremely exciting projects under development. There are a few projects in particular that will make FSA and HSC stand out as one of the leading programs and venues along the East Coast. The common denominator within all of our future plans is the continued growth and development available to everyone associated with our program.
FSA is an international academy with locations in the USA, England and Austria. What opportunities does this offer to our players and how do you see the interaction with our sides overseas?
The potential for players based in the US to train and work alongside those from Europe is a very big motivating factor. There are very few programs that can provide their players the opportunity to travel overseas and directly sample the sport within a different culture and environment. For those players looking to reach the highest levels of soccer in this country or abroad, the chance to travel and train with other elite level players in Europe can only be of benefit to them.
What do you think of the setup at HSC?
The set up at HSC is fantastic! It is one that provides players and coaches with everything necessary to improve and develop year-round. Consistent access to indoor facilities during the winter months is one that very few programs can provide their players. With multiple turf fields and the recent addition of an elite standard grass field provides players and teams with a facility that is the envy of many programs locally and throughout the state of New York.
What is your goal with FSA and where do you see the academy in 3 years?
Whilst the program is still in its infancy, the plan and goals of FSA are very much focused around being the best program in the state of New York. My short-term approach is to ensure that the relevant structures and procedures are in place to allow the program to grow both on and off the field. In the long term we are looking to continually provide the highest level of competition for our players to ensure their development remains at the forefront of our core values. Providing players with consistent challenges will hopefully allow the program to compete within the highest levels of Youth Soccer, both regionally and nationally.
FSA’s goal is to provide the best and most professional training for their players as well as create a community spirit amongst its FSA Family. How excited are you to be a part of this?
One of the biggest attractions of FSA to me is the vision and development plan in place for the program, both players and staff. Having the opportunity to be part of the process that helps everyone involved with FSA become better is a great motivational tool to myself. As coaches we look to provide players with the necessary skill sets needed to progress and become better players. I am excited to be working alongside a dedicated and energetic group of coaches and help them within their progression as part of the coaching staff within an elite level soccer program.