Downie Faces Task of Following Two Longtime Coaches


William Nemes

Varsity soccer Coach Austin Downie gives a half time speech at the away game against Holy Trinity. West Shore won 2-1, the first time in four years that the team was able to beat Holy Trinity.

Aaron Murphy, Staff Writer

As head varsity soccer coach Austin Downie chooses his 2022-2023 soccer team, he grapples with the legacy and traditions that have been ingrained by the prior coach Bob Robidoux.

“I take it one day at a time, I don’t look for tomorrow,” Downie said. “I just focus on today, and how to get this group of boys better in today’s practice or today’s game. I think if I stick to that plan, just focus on what we can do today, my shoes will slowly start to fill Robidoux’s.”

Bob Robidoux started coaching in 2010 when his son Ryan started playing varsity soccer. He did not retire from his position until early 2022. Bob Robidoux led the soccer program to win two state champion titles, one in 2012, and one in 2017.

“Rubidoux’s legacy was two state champion wins,” Senior and three year varsity soccer player Cole Ratkus said. “He was tough, it was tough love. I miss how he was completely honest with everyone, he wouldn’t sugar-coat anything, it was good for us.”

Robidoux was known for his tough coaching style, but Downie has a different approach to coaching according to Ratkus

“I think Downie has replaced Robidoux really well,” Ratkus said. “He brings a new positive attitude to the team, even if there is a little less discipline because we are not taking accountability for our actions.”

Downie is not only replacing Robidoux’s position as soccer coach but also Greg Eller as PE coach. Eller started teaching P.E. at West Shore in 1998 when the school was founded and retired last school year. He taught classes that ranged from middle school P.E. to health education, but he was best known for his role as the weight training instructor.

“Eller was very well respected, and a fantastic teacher here for the students,” Downie said. “I think he had many great relationships with the students, so I’m trying to build those relationships with the students and motivate them in the weight room, and motivate my younger classes to learn sports. I’m using his techniques, and using mine, and I think it’s been very successful so far.”

Junior Jack Markos is a weightlifting student who had both Downie and Eller.

“I don’t think anyone can actually replace Eller,” Markos said, “but Downie has his own upsides. He is chill and talks to the kids and tries to be friends with them. I think he does a good job with that, so in a way he’s kind of like Eller.”

Downie went to the University of Mount Union in Ohio, where he played football  majored in education and got a masters in leadership and managment. He graduated in 2018 then worked three years as an elementary P.E. teacher while he coached JV soccer at West Shore.

“I started coaching here in 2018, and I didn’t know of Eller’s retirement until the day the job was posted,” Downie said. “I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to get here on campus and be around the team more, and not just help them on the field but also help them in the classroom. I took full advantage of the chance to apply to the job, and I was very fortunate to be selected to replace Eller. I am grateful to be here.”

Downie said that his father was his soccer coach and mentor in his early life.

“He’s a mentor I look up to, he coached me when I was a player,” he said. “I see my dad as my mentor still to this day, he has been really good for someone to look up to. He’s always hard on me, and it’s good to learn and grow from him.”

Downie said that having his father as a mentor gives his job meaning.

“In your job you have to be passionate about what you do, and you have to have a ‘why’ to get up and go do what you do,” he said. “I wake up every day and love what I do, and I’m very passionate about what I do, and I have that feeling that I’m serving a purpose in this world. I’ve had some great mentors in my life, not just coaches but teachers, and I want to be that mentor for somebody down the road, and just give positive support to them as they grow into the adult world.”