BALLSTON SPA – Greg O’Connor expects to have a new role with the Ballston Spa High School football team this fall — assistant coach — a role he’s familiar with.
O’Connor was an assistant coach with Ballston Spa from 2013 through 2019 before he assumed the role of head coach late in the season when Jason Ohnsman was removed from the position after being charged with driving while intoxicated.
O’Connor continued in the head coaching role for the past two seasons, with Ohnsman remaining on the coaching staff as an assistant coach.
“It was exciting, it was exhausting, it was fun, it was a challenge, all of those things,” O’Connor said in a phone interview. “I have great kids, the coaches are awesome, the support from the school was excellent. Everybody was supportive, the parents in the booster club. I have no complaints.”
O’Connor’s decision came down to time away from the team on a daily basis.
He has been a math teacher at the Schuylerville School District for 23 years and commutes from his home just minutes away from Ballston Spa High School.
“It was just difficult being in another building [and another school district],” O’Connor said. “You don’t see the kids. I’m trying to get to every event I can between every wrestling match, basketball game, lacrosse game and baseball [game]. It’s just difficult trying to connect with kids when you don’t see them on any sort of regular basis.”
O’Connor spent nine years as the head coach at Schuylerville High School and led the Black Horses to two Section II Class C titles in 2004 and 2005. He stepped down in 2013, and then accepted a position as an assistant at Ballston Spa, where he has worked under three different head coaches.
O’Connor said he couldn’t be in two places at the same time.
“It’s not fair to the other coaches, too,” O’Connor said. “To ask them to do everything for me, the coaches that are at the school. I felt responsible and I wanted to be there, but I didn’t have a choice. I had to rely on those guys, and they were awesome, but I just prefer to, since I’m responsible, to do those things.”
Ohnsman was in his first year as the Ballston Spa football head coach before being placed on indefinite leave after being charged in late 2019 with driving while intoxicated after being stopped for an insufficient tail lamp on Spring Street in the village of Ballston Spa. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge on and was fined $660, had his driver’s license suspended for 90 days, was ordered to do 50 hours of community service and attend a victim impact panel.
Ohnsman remained active within the Ballston Spa athletic programs as a football and boys’ varsity lacrosse assistant coach among other duties.
O’Connor said he informed Ballston Spa athletic director Dave Sunkes that he would not be returning to the head coaching position, but asked to remain on as an assistant coach earlier this year.
The school district has not announced who will take over as head coach. Last year, the Ballston Spa Board of Education approved Sunkes’ list of fall coaches and assistants in early May.
Sunkes did not reply to a request for comment.
Reach sportswriter Stan Hudy at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @StanHudy.
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