Soccer Community Mourns the Loss of Coach O
Updated on 12/11/18
San Diego’s longtime resident youth soccer coach O lost her battle with cancer and her funeral was today. All around the USA, members of the youth soccer world paused to remember this lady’s fierce contribution to the game loved by so many.
Youth Soccer News: San Diego’s Coach O died December 1, 2018, and her funeral was today. She was only 43 years old and leaves behind her husband, Edde Iott, two beloved children and an entire soccer community mourning her death.
Ouying Zhang was the former captain of the Chinese Women’s National team. She settled in America’s Favorite City and coached thousands of youth soccer players, sharing her passion for the game and her technical prowess.
Coach O was a World Cup player turned beloved San Diego Soccer Club coach who battled lung cancer with the same resolve she taught her players — by being brave and relentless, and with kindness.
According to Bryce Miller’s article in the San Diego Union-Tribune,most people did not know the details of Coach O’s soccer life in China. They knew she played. But few knew she “buried a penalty kick during that epic World Cup final against the United States in 1999, the largest women’s sporting event in history. In front of 90,185 at the Rose Bowl, Coach O had come agonizingly close to pushing China over the top in a match immortalized by Brandi Chastain’s victorious, knees-first slide in a sports bra.”
Longtime friend and colleague Raffi Ruotolo, SDSC Director of Coaching: Older Girls knew. So did Soaf Platini.
“We all feel great sadness at the loss of Coach O,” said Platini.
Soaf Platini says goodbye to his dear friend, Coach O, and helped capture the sentiment of the youth soccer community that is shared by so many:
Here is what a parent shared with Platini:
We feel her loss as our own. She touched the lives of people here in San Diego and in her native China — through her passion for soccer and her genuine caring and concern for friends. We know how well she earned the love of these friends. They acknowledged that love with their tremendous outpouring of support on GoFundMe during her courageous fight with cancer.
She was justifiably famous for her soccer ability. Yet she was one never to flaunt her fame.
Coach O earned World Cup medals. She earned Olympic medals. But she never bragged about them.
You learned of her success only if you asked. Even then, it was explained modestly. Kids were at the center of Coach O’s life.
Coach O lived most for her own children, Elynn and Flynn. I was lucky enough to be at the hospital with Edde and Coach O when the children were born. I know how much she cared for them over the too-few years she had to watch them grow.
Perhaps Elynn or Flynn, or both of them, will discover and enjoy soccer in the same way that their mom did.
And, of course, we all remember Coach O for her dedication to our young soccer players as they developed through the years.
She was the rare kind of sports teacher who knew instinctively that each child was unique.
She knew each child would respond differently. She wasn’t a pushover. She demanded concentration. But she did so in a way that brought the best out in each kid. And the kids always knew that she was on their side.
One parent told me* …
“My daughter Alyssa is one of those many kids who responded to Coach O’s training. When Alyssa was 9 years old, she asked if she could learn to play soccer. I asked several friends who were involved with youth soccer, and one name came up consistently and on the top of everyone’s list; Coach O.
When I met Coach O, I understood immediately her sincere willingness to share her soccer expertise with the even the greenest of students.
Alyssa could barely kick a ball when Coach O began working with her. Little-by-little, she built her skills. Soccer has become a big part of her life because of Coach O. My son Alex has approached soccer differently. He does not have the same passion as Alyssa. But he has a good skill set that Coach O has helped to mold. I know every parent who interacted with Coach O shares a similar experience.”
Coach O would be a little embarrassed to take the credit that my family and other families have given her.
She would demur, saying that each kid is a blank canvas, but with the portrait waiting behind it, and she just helping to bring out that portrait.
It is true that the pain from the loss of a friend never completely goes away.
But it will diminish over time. The warm memories that we all have of Coach O will come to the forefront, and they will remain to grow stronger over time.
Correction: *Originally this article was published with Platini making the statements referring to Alyssa and Alex as his children. The article has not been corrected to reflect that this was another parent referring to their children. We are sorry for any confusion this may have caused.