New York State West Youth Soccer Association lost a valuable asset on October 15, 2006. Coach Ross Riley passed after a long and courageous fight with cancer. Ross, a coach and administrator with BC United Soccer Association in Endicott, New York, lives on in our memory and in the young men and women he touched.
As coach, Ross was at the ‘head of the class’. Coach Riley has had a major impact on and was a positive mentor to a large number of young men and women. Not only did he understand the game but transferred his knowledge and passion for soccer to his players. In every respect, he led by example. He taught competitive drive, yet instilled in his players the importance of sportsmanship. He understood about values and the transference of those values from the game to ’life’. Some examples of things he was overheard telling his players,
“Do not underestimate your opponents, and most important, honor them with your best performance.”
“Play hard, but keep in mind that when the game is over he is your friend and classmate.”
“Appreciate your toughest opponent for without her you would not be forced to play your best.”
“More important than the outcome, is your improvement. I expect to see improvement in your play and so should you.”
“Don’t make a habit of breaking the rules!”
His influence expanded beyond his teams. Players from opposing teams had great respect and appreciation for Coach Ross for his teachings and his positive involvement in so many activities in the soccer community.
As organizer and administrator, Ross was our teacher. He always led by example and he was respected by all. His involvement in many soccer and non-soccer community activities intertwined Ross with many people including a number of opposing coaches. The hard work and dedication to those many projects was an inspiration to us all.
When youth soccer began to grow in his community, Ross stepped in where needed and got things done. His involvement was not only on the administration/ organization side of the various programs but he worked directly with the players. Over the decades of service, Ross was involved with the Boys & Girls Club of Western Broome County, Binghamton’s TOPSoccer program, Endicott Youth Soccer Association, and BC United. He also coached NYSW ODP, FC Broome (premier club), Vestal Youth Soccer Club teams and was the assistant coach for Union Endicott High School Girls Varsity team for a number of years.
Ross Riley was very busy outside the soccer community. He was a professional banker. At retirement, Ross was a Vice-President and Branch Manager for a bank in Endicott, New York. He had received many awards and professional recognition for outstanding work and contribution to the banking industry and his employer. Ross was also very involved with Meals-on-Wheels and St Ambrose Parish. Much of Ross’ involvement centered on the difficult task of fund raising.
In 1999, one of Ross’ players collapsed and died after a soccer match from a congenital heart problem. In the boy’s memory, Ross and the boy’s father created a scholarship fund in the boy’s name to honor him. The program continues to raise money to provide annual awards to young men and women graduating from the BC United program and to provide an opportunity to participate in soccer to those who could otherwise not afford to play.
Ross Riley was a family man. His wife, Mary, and children, Chris and Sean, were always involved. Ross’ projects were the family’s projects.
A field at the BC United Soccer Complex was recently dedicated in his name.
Coach Ross Riley, or “Uncle Ross” as his players affectionately called him, is sadly missed. We are, however, warmed by the experience of knowing him and by seeing in those young men and women who played for him strength and a positive approach to soccer and to life.
As his disease weakened him, he continued his involvement in soccer contributing what he could. His courage and determination was inspirational.
NYSWYSA would be hard pressed to find another so involved and so successful in molding the lives of so many young men and women. Ross Riley is loved by so many – young and old.
A quote about two of Ross’ graduating players is found in the publication THE AMY FOUNDATION in an article written by Jill Darling, titled “Graduating with High Honors”. The same quote applies to their coach and mentor. “In the Book of Proverbs King Solomon, wrote ‘A man is valued by what others say of him.’ Another scripture states, ‘A good name is to be chosen rather than silver and gold’.”