by Bob San
It was late in June and Jean-Yves Viardin was preparing to take a long vacation to France. But he was asked to take over as the head boys’ soccer coach at Osseo High School. Viardin accepted.
The job offer didn’t come as a complete surprise. Viardin knew about the job because he and former Osseo coach Scott Smith went to the same church. Smith had talked to Viardin about the possible opening because Smith knew he might be moving. When Smith did move to Florida for a new job, OHS athletic director Ray Kirch asked Viardin to be the new coach. After thinking hard over it, Viardin accepted and did his best to get the program going.
“We started in late June so that didn’t leave us much time to run a summer program or get anything ready,” Viardin said.
The late coaching change and lack of any summer training meant a much smaller turnout than before.
“We tried to get as many players out to try out as possible but that didn’t happen,” Viardin said. “So we have a lot of 10th and 11th graders on the team. This is definitely a rebuilding year.”
The Orioles opened the season with a very inexperienced team as senior defender Aaron Bergh and senior goalie Alex Otto are the only returning starters. Not surprisingly, the Orioles are off to a slow start at 1-7-2.
Viardin knew it would be difficult to have a winning record this season, but he is confident about his knowledge of the game and he believes he and his fellow coaches can bring the program back to its former glory in the not too distant future.
Soccer has been a big part of Viardin his whole life. A French-Puerto Rican, Viardin lived in soccer-crazed countries his entire life.
“My dad was in the hotel business so I was all over — South America, Central America, Europe, Canada,” Viardin said.
Viardin settled down in Minnesota and has spent the past 12 years here. He was the head girls’ coach at Armstrong High for five years and served as the Director of Coaching for the Maplebrook Soccer Association the past 1 1/2 seasons. He comes to Osseo with a good knowledge of the local soccer landscape. He knows the Osseo program is rich in tradition, having won a state championship in 2008, and the area is a soccer hotbed that supplies a solid stream of talents.
Because of his late start, Viardin knows it will take time to rebuild the program.
“We did not have a pre-season so that hurt us quite a bit,” Viardin said. “It takes a while to get acclimated to the new players.”
For this season, Viardin wants his team to learn and develop as the season goes along.
“We are young but we have some talented individuals,” Viardin said. “We want to see if they can play together. We want to improve, be competitive in the section tournament and move on to next year.”
Another key goal for Viardin is to make sure his players do well academically.
“I want to keep them on track to go on to college,” he said.
Now well into his first season at Osseo, Viardin is sure his decision to forgo a trip to France to come to Osseo is the right one.
“It was a hard decision. After some games I regretted it a bit,” said Viardin with a laugh. “But I know I’ve made the right choice. We will build a strong program, but it will take a little bit of time. We will get there and we will make an impact on these guys.”
The Orioles next visit Anoka Thursday, Sept. 27, and host Mounds View Saturday, Sept. 29.