Father, son take on new coaching challenges

Obarskis remain heavily involved in Dakota County soccer

The Obarski family has been a fixture in south metro youth and high school soccer for decades. This fall, however, finds two of them trying to leave imprints on new teams.

Jason Obarski, one of Mark’s and Barb’s five soccer-playing children, is a high school head coach for the first time, taking over the boys program at Farmington High School.

Mark, head girls soccer coach at Eagan High School for the last 14 years, was hired in June to coach the women’s team at Dakota County Technical College.

“He had a lot of success at Eagan; he accomplished most of the things he wanted to do there,” Jason said of his father’s job change. “At the same time, he always had an eye on college coaching. This job lets him stay at Eagan as a teacher and gives him the chance he wanted to coach a college team.”

Mark, on his son running the Farmington boys program: “I think it’s great. He has a passion for coaching. His team looks like it has a good foundation. He’s coaching in the South Suburban Conference, which is not only a strong conference but one he’s familiar with.”

Back to the field

Jason Obarski, an All-State soccer and football player at Apple Valley High School, has had a non-traditional career track. He was an athletic director before becoming a high school head coach, an almost unheard-of occurrence.

Jason Obarski
Jason Obarski

In 2013-14 he was athletic director at Prairie Seeds Academy, a charter school in Brooklyn Park. One of his biggest tasks was repairing the school’s relationship with the Minnesota State High School League and its other members.

Before Obarski was hired, the MSHSL kicked Prairie Seeds out of the 2012 state Class A boys soccer tournament for using ineligible players. Part of Obarski’s job was to make sure Prairie Seeds coaches understood the high school league’s rules and put procedures in place to make sure they were followed.

But, he wanted to coach.

“Farmington is a growing community and the fact that the school is in the South Suburban Conference is definitely a plus, because I played at Apple Valley when most of those schools were in the Lake Conference,” Obarski said.

In addition to coaching the high school team, Obarski will direct a Minnesota Thunder Academy regional branch in Farmington, which will operate the community’s youth soccer program.

Farmington reached the Section 1AA championship game last season. From what Obarski has seen of the Tigers’ varsity candidates this summer, he said they look like an unselfish, coachable group. He will run a camp for the high school players later this month.

“I’m implementing my philosophy, developing our style of play and building a relationship with the players so we’re not all going in blind Aug. 11 (when fall practices start),” he said.

The Tigers have to adjust to playing in one of the state’s most competitive leagues, and Obarski has to adjust to coaching against people such as Alan Merrick and Chuck Scanlon. Obarski said Merrick is one of his biggest soccer influences. Scanlon, the Apple Valley coach who is the state’s all-time leader in victories, was Obarski’s high school coach.

Looking for a few more players

Mark Obarski was hired less than two months before the Dakota County Technical College women’s team is scheduled to begin practice. Recruiting started almost immediately.

“We have a number of players on the roster already, but we’re definitely looking for more,” he said.

Mark Obarski
Mark Obarski

He planned to be at the USA Cup Weekend and USA Cup tournaments in Blaine to see if he can find any players who slipped through the recruiting cracks.

“We’ll look at kids who graduated (from high school) this year or the year before and see if they’re still interested in playing college soccer,” he said.

Obarski takes over for Cam Stoltz, who founded the DCTC women’s team in 2003 and remains at the college as men’s soccer coach and athletic coordinator.

The DCTC women’s soccer rosters had a heavy Twin Cities influence under Stoltz. All of the players on last year’s team were from metro-area high schools.

Obarski said he will have the same philosophy toward assembling his rosters.

“My goal is to really hit the metro area hard for recruiting,” he said.

A lot of colleges recruit Minnesota players, but Obarski said he will emphasize DCTC’s attributes: close to home, an on-campus field, and interesting road trips. “We have a trip to Salt Lake City this year,” Obarski said.

“Sports is part of the college experience,” he said, “and that’s true if you’re at a two-year college or a four-year college.”

Obarski, a two-time state high school coach of the year, said he believes his ideas will translate to college soccer. Having been a local high school coach could help him get a foot in the door with players.

“I hope so,” he said. “I had a good relationship with the coaches in the South Suburban Conference, and we played a lot of the Suburban East schools in our non-conference games.”