Zack Osborne started both the boys and girls soccer programs at Greensboro’s Page High School, taking both programs to multiple state championships. The Pirates’ boys program began in 1974 and in 27 seasons his Page teams posted a 410-112-35 won-lost record. His girls program began in 1980 and he continues to serve as the coach of that team. The Page boys won state championships in 1977, 1979, 1980 and 1991, while the girls captured their three state titles in 1986, 1987 and 1988. Combined, Osborne’s boys and girls teams, at the time of his induction into the N.C. Soccer Hall of Fame, had posted a 760-184-59 record.
Having a vision about what makes soccer “the beautiful game” is a quality possessed by its most illustrious coaches, managers, and administrators, but having the vision serves no purpose if it promotes the game while neglecting the people who play it. True champions use their vision as a vehicle to promote healthy lifestyles, citizenship, sportsmanship, and other character traits that have life-long value. Special coaches, like Zack Osborne, possess the ability to teach winning soccer without losing perspective of the whole player.
Zack Osborne’s outstanding career as the boys’ and girls’ soccer coach at Page High School, in Greensboro, has earned him the distinction of being selected as a member of the fifth class of inductees of the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame on this, the fourth day of January, 2003.
Zack Osborne participated in cross country and track at the University of North Carolina where he was a member of the Class of ’73. Immediately upon graduation from UNC, he accepted a teaching assignment at Page High School to begin a career that would span 28½ years. Shortly into his tenure, his visit into the office of principal Robert Clendenin began as an act of advocacy for two students who had been frustrated by a lack of a response to questions about starting a soccer team. It turned into the beginning of Coach Osborne’s tenure at the helm of the Pirate’s soccer dynasty. Despite little background in soccer, he began the boys’ program at Page in 1974. One coaching clinic led to many others, and he wound up coaching the boys through the 2000 season. His twenty-seven boys’ teams at Page amassed a record of 410-112-35. They won four NCHSAA state championships (’77, ’79, ’80, ’91) and finished second twice. He began coaching the Pirate girls’ soccer team in 1980 and, to date, has been their only head coach. So far, his twenty-three girls’ teams have a record of 350-72-24. They won three NCHSAA state championships (’86, ’87, ’88) and finished second twice. He owns the distinction of having coached the Pirates in the first NCHSAA state championship contests for both boys (1977) and girls (1986). He coached the West boys’ squad in the first NCCA East-West All-Star Game (1992) and was also appointed to that post for the West girls’ team ten years later (2002). He was a two-time girls’ State Coach-of-the-Year recipient from the North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association. While coaching two teams each academic year, he had an incredible run of 43 consecutive winning seasons. During that run, he didn’t receive a yellow card until the 423rd game of his career. Accompanied by his girls’ team on May 2, 2002, he coached his 1000th high school soccer contest for the Page Pirates.
These facts provide testimony to Zack Osborne’s commitment to the Page soccer program, to the longevity of his service, and to the excellence of his players, but a full evaluation of his work necessitates recognizing other contributions. He was a beloved teacher of English and Journalism. He used those academic disciplines to inspire students of all abilities to seek truth through the written and spoken word. He professed a special affinity for working with sophomore students because they were still developing their own system of beliefs. Beyond his work in the classroom, he was a role model for many of the young teacher/coaches at Page High School. He was one of the first coaches to hold pre-season parent meetings, a practice that is commonplace today. He was one of the first coaches to involve his players in community service projects, which is encouraged for all teams at Page High School today. He took advantage of his writing ability to author weekly newsletters to the parents of the Page soccer players. And he was always on the job. He took only two sick days in his entire teaching career.
Zack Osborne’s coaching career blossomed from an innocuous effort to help two students communicate their needs to someone, but his talent as a coach is not a matter of mere coincidence. His ability as a communicator and his appetite for life-long learning distinguish him from his peers.