Across two decades coaching high school soccer, Rusty Oglesby has seen and done plenty.
He’s built programs from scratch, competed for state championships, molded a number of top-level student-athletes and spread his passion for the game in a myriad of ways off the field. Though it all, Oglesby has approached each chapter with the same principle that was instilled back in his college days playing football at Hardin-Simmons.
“We were taught one thing — to show up and be the best we could be every day, no matter what,” Oglesby said.
Famed football coach Jimmie Keeling imparted that outlook to Oglesby — something he has embraced to become one of the top soccer coaches in the state. Last week, Oglesby received a phone call that validated as much.
Currently the head boys soccer coach at John Paul II, Oglesby was told that he had been inducted into the Texas Association of Soccer Coaches Hall of Honor. One of three inductees for the 2020 class, Oglesby is joined by Mike Chapman and Carl Wiersema.
“That call Friday night was pretty cool. We don’t coach for those accolades, so when they do come along it’s very, very special,” Oglesby said. “When you’re in the habit of coaching kids and you hope you’re doing everything the right way, it’s really awesome to get a call that kind of affirms that maybe you’re doing something right.”
Oglesby’s career includes stops at Beeville (1999-2000), Marble Falls (2000-02), Sachse (2004-06) and Frisco Wakeland (2006-16) prior to arriving at John Paul, where he helms the boys soccer program and coaches under George Teague as the football team’s offensive coordinator.
All these years later, Oglesby still remembers that feeling while cutting his teeth at his first head coaching gig in Beeville — a good 350-plus miles south of John Paul.
“I was only 23 or 24 years old and was a head soccer coach in high school,” he said. “That never happens and I was so green — I no idea, so I was just copying what other people had taught me.”
Oglesby steadily migrated north, honing his vision and coaching philosophy as he made the move to the Metroplex in 2004 as the inaugural head boys soccer coach at Sachse. In a constant at his early coaching posts, Oglesby also coached football while with the Mustangs — serving as the program’s linebackers coach under Mark “Red” Behrens.
He split his time between soccer and football up until 2006 when he was hired as Wakeland’s first-ever head boys soccer coach. Although Oglesby had helped put Sachse on the cusp of being nationally ranked, sporting a 12-2-1 record at the time, it required some lean years early on. Oglesby recalls going 3-15 his first year with the Mustangs and 4-16 in his debut campaign with the Wolverines — a campaign where he started nine freshmen.
“One of those (at Wakeland) was a forfeit, too. As a coach, your ego is completely shot and you really learn a lot about yourself,” Oglesby said. “… I always heard about how hard our kids played and how coaches didn’t want to play us in a few years. After I put my ego aside, I felt like if I could tough it out a few more years then we could be pretty special.”
The win totals steadily climbed, culminating in a 28-2-3 campaign in 2010 when Oglesby led Wakeland to its first-ever UIL state championship — taking down Kingwood Park in a shootout. The emotions of that afternoon in Georgetown still stick with Oglesby, whose father died just a month prior.
“The first thought was, ‘Wow we really just did this.’ The culmination of 35 years of your life and 12-13 years as a coach and you realize we really did it,” Oglesby said to The Frisco Enterprise in April 2010 following the championship win. “Me holding it in check for a whole month, trying to be strong for my team but at the same time crushed inside, and for the first time I could release all the emotion I’d held in check for a month.”
The Wolverines were only starting to flourish as a soccer powerhouse, with 2010 marking the first of six state tournament appearances for the program — two more coming under Oglesby. A pair of championships followed, including one in 2017 where despite having stepped away from the program, still provided a memory that ranks as high as any throughout Oglesby’s career.
“Just watching that group and being in the bleachers that day to see them win a state championship was probably the most gratifying experience I’ve ever had as a coach,” Oglesby said. “Being on the sidelines afterwards and getting to hug those seniors … the goal and hope is to win a state title and to see that happen was completely gratifying. I felt complete in my career.
“There wasn’t a part of me thinking that if I had stayed then I could have won another title. That never crossed my mind, because I felt good about where we were and I was at peace with my decision to walk away the year before.”
Oglesby returned to the pitch in 2017 but only in a part-time capacity at John Paul — splitting his time between soccer and real estate. Guiding the Cardinals to the postseason each year of his tenure, Oglesby took on full-time duties with the school two years ago while also rekindling his love for coaching football.
He’s worn several hats off the field as well — be it serving as the general manager of Denton Diablos FC, an amateur club in the National Premier Soccer League, or helping United Soccer Coaches navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as the association’s vice president.
“You win that election and get this massive opportunity to be on this board of directors, and then boom — COVID hits,” Oglesby said. “Suddenly, we go from strategic planning to trying to figure out how to keep cash on hand, who works the day-to-day operations, how do we support the CEO — it all became a baptism by fire for me. It’s exciting, though. We get to see ourselves as this true conduit of how we can help soccer continue to grow in America.”
All the while, Oglesby hasn’t strayed from passion of coaching. He said his motto of togetherness, “Harambe,” is still used by Wakeland, and he still keeps in touch with a number of his former players from the Frisco area — some of whom he called not long after receiving word of his Hall of Honor induction.
“I just had to thank them for helping get me to where I am today. Without those players, you’re not in the Hall. Those wins were because of the kids,” Oglesby said. “We put them on the field, but those great players still have to play for you and believe in you. My hope was always that a kid wanted to play high school soccer for the school that I coached at.
“… My greatest joys today are knowing that we’ve put 60-something kids in college to play soccer. I’ve become ordained and done weddings for players. I’ve gotten birth announcements for players and even sold a few homes to former players. Those are the things that are more precious than the wins and losses — knowing that these kids are growing up and becoming productive parts of society. If we had a small piece to play in that, it’s overwhelming.”