Having coached Sprayberry in Cobb County for more than a decade, Osborn came to Etowah to take on a new challenge. The challenge that he expected was to attempt to elevate the Lady Eagle program to the state’s elite. Instead, he faced a different challenge, perhaps the greatest challenge of his life.
Osborn was diagnosed with throat cancer early in the season and rather than putting his players through drills on the field, he was putting himself through treatment.
Despite being away from his players for much of the season and unable to walk the sidelines, Osborn continued to be a leader and inspiration for his team. With junior varsity coach Victoria Brown stepping up to take an active role with the varsity squad, the team rallied around Osborn and matched its win total from the previous season despite having several matches canceled. The Lady Eagles qualified for the state playoffs and even more important to many of the players, defeated Roswell for the first time in program history.
For leading the Lady Eagles despite personal adversity, Osborn has been named the 2014 Cherokee Tribune Girls Lacrosse Coach of the Year.
“Even though coach Osborn was not with the team for the duration of the season, the girls were able to use his drive and passion for the game of lacrosse to push themselves into the playoffs and a great season,” Brown said. “He was able to communicate with the coaching staff and players and get his messages and inspirational thoughts across to the players.”
Senior captain Alexia Audet said the players fought harder on the field because they knew their coach was fighting hard against cancer.
“We even dedicated one of our games to him,” Audet said. “We wore burgundy ribbons to support him and had a cake after. I think we all came together because of him. We did burgundy ribbons on our face and stuff.”
“It helped them embrace the game of lacrosse and their own aspiration to achieve greatness,” Brown said. “His message to the girls was very clear from the beginning of the season and through hard work and great character the girls were able to achieve great things this season.”
Osborn was on hand for several of the Lady Eagles’ matches including those against Roswell, Woodstock, and the first-round playoff with Harrison.
“I think our biggest accomplishment was beating Roswell and coach Osborn was there for it,” Audet said. “We did that and we never had before.”
Osborn plans to return to the team in 2015 and resume full coaching duties. While Audet won’t be there next season as she will be competing for Young Harris next year, she things Osborn has the ability to lead the Lady Eagles to the elite level as was his original goal. Brown also expects the team to improve next season under Osborn full-time.
“I am excited to see what coach Osborne will be able to do with the future of this program,” Brown said.