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West Orange Times & Observer Friday, Jan. 19, 2018 10 months ago

West Orange volleyball coach Ross Usie bows out on top | Observer Preps

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After coaching the Warriors to their first volleyball state title in 2017 and being recognized as Florida's coach of the year, Ross Usie has stepped down.
by: Steven Ryzewski Senior Sports Editor

West Orange High’s volleyball coach has gone out on top.

Ross Usie, the coach of the Warriors for the past seven years — most recently coaching West Orange to an undefeated state championship run, for which he was named the Florida Dairy Farmers Coach of the Year — confirmed last week he has stepped down.

Usie, who recently married, works as a design instructor for Orange Technical College and also coaches club volleyball for Top Select. He is looking to carve out some more free time and focus on starting a family.

“I thought about it before the season, not that I was going to leave before the season, but that I thought, ‘I’m starting to wrap up my high-school coaching career — let’s see how this year goes, and I’ll determine from there,’” Usie said.

Following that, things went about as well as possible. West Orange went 29-0 and finished the 2017 season ranked as the No. 4 team in the nation by the MaxPreps Xcellent 25. The Warriors won the program’s first state championship Nov. 18 with a sweep of Palm Beach Gardens at the UNF Arena in Jacksonville. 

“It wasn’t, ‘I have to win a state championship, and then I’m done,’” Usie said. “It was never that … being able to go out on top is something I could never have dreamed of.”

Now, Athletic Director Jerry Shafer begins the task of trying to replace the top coach in the state from 2017.

“He’s going to be a tough coach to replace,” Shafer said. “You have to give a guy credit — he took a program that was down seven years ago and built it into a powerhouse.”

Indeed, according to MaxPreps, the Warriors went 5-12 the season before he arrived on campus.

“Getting good talent definitely helps,” Usie said. “These girls play club, they love the sport, and they’re putting time and effort into it.”

Usie informed his team at its recent postseason banquet and said the student-athletes have been supportive of his new direction.

“I’m sad — I’m going to miss (the kids) — but they were supportive and they know that I’ll be around and support them through the rest of their journey.”

“They were supportive of me leaving and focusing on myself for a little bit,” Usie said. “I’m sad — I’m going to miss them — but they were supportive and they know that I’ll be around and support them through the rest of their journey.”

With several standouts returning from this year’s championship team — including Division I commits Taylor Head, Torey Baum and Kaeli Crews — the job opening is proving to an attractive one for coaches near and far.

“We’re getting phenomenal résumés already,” Shafer said.

Whoever becomes the Warriors’ next head coach, Usie hopes he or she will embrace the opportunity and the young athletes who make up the program.

“(The new coach is) taking over maybe another state championship team — I think it’s a good program that has good athletes in place right now,” Usie said. “They’re gonna have a blast next year.”

Steven Ryzewski is the Senior Sports Editor for ObserverPreps.com, as well as all three of Observer Media Group's print publications in Orange County. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida....

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