Watertown High School has tabbed veteran coach Jim O’Leary as their next boys basketball coach. O’Leary tells DailyDodge.com that when the job opened up and nobody on the staff applied, Gosling Athletic Director Jamie Koepp reached out to him to see if there was interest because they didn’t have a teaching position available in the district. He said that initially he wasn’t sure he was interested but after thinking about it and talking to people, he realized that he’ll be 64 in September and this would be his last chance to “stick his neck out” and do something that is responsible and important to a lot of a people. He applied for the position and when offered the job he accepted.
O’Leary brings over 40 years of coaching and leadership experience to Watertown. He grew up in Tomah, Wisconsin and went on to college at UW-Eau Claire. He began his coaching career at Osseo-Fairchild, where he coached the sophomore boys basketball team in the 1978-79 season. He then moved on to a teaching position in Amery, Wisconsin where he was also an assistant in the boy basketball program for three seasons. O’Leary was next hired as they head boys basketball coach at Green Lake High School and held that position from 1982 to 1990. O’Leary moved on to take the athletic director position at Oconomowoc, which he held from 1990 to 2004. After deciding to return to the classroom, he got back into coaching and led the Oconomowoc JVs until 2013. He continued to teach part time in the district until 2019.
O’Leary says that one of the main factors in accepting the position was the amazing tradition Watertown has in boys basketball. He says when you coach that team, you expect to do well as they have an established program where the kids take it seriously. While at Oconomowoc he says he was able to see the Goslings play many times over the years as the rivalry between the two schools dates back to the 1930s.
O’Leary says that a high school basketball coach has to be very flexible when it comes to coaching style. He says he would like to run and play at the fastest pace they can, but they also must play as hard as they can on the defensive end. He adds that he expects his team to be unselfish, share the ball and move the ball. He thinks his team will put a product on the floor that the people in Watertown will be proud to watch.
The Goslings are coming off a solid 12-9 season that saw them tie for 3rd place in the Badger South with an 8-6 league mark. Despite graduating 10 players from that squad, they bring back a handful of seniors that contributed last season and also have a solid group of incoming juniors. With the current COVID-19 situation impacting summer basketball, O’Leary says that he has yet to meet his team face to face and will have to use film from last season to learn about his players until he can get them in the gym.
Jim O’Leary replaces Travis Moulton who stepped down after seven seasons on the job to spend more time with his family.
Click the link below to hear a complete interview with new Watertown boys basketball coach Jim O’Leary.
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