- Bobby O'Brien coaches Jamestown's boys soccer team
- Patrick O'Brien, his younger brother, is a standout player on the team
- The brothers have a mutual respect for each other
Patrick O'Brien is restless and aggressive energy in pursuit of the soccer ball. Older brother Bobby O'Brien, Patrick's coach at Jamestown High, was firey and temperamental as a player.
As tough as they are, their favorite soccer moment is a hug. The brothers, coach and player, embraced following Jamestown's upset of Blacksburg, the No. 1-ranked team in the country, in the 2008 Group AA state semifinals.
Patrick, then a freshman, filled in again at goalkeeper for the injured starter the next day, when Jamestown beat Grafton for the state championship. Bobby capped his first season as coach by hoisting the state title trophy, but the hug following the semifinal is the indelible memory they share.
"Patrick made a couple of great saves down the stretch to keep us ahead by a goal," Bobby recalled of the 2-1 win over Blacksburg. "Then there was the picture in the paper of us hugging afterward.
"That was a cool moment to share."
Patrick said, "That's definitely a memory I'll have for the rest of my life. I had to learn from adversity, playing a position I don't play, but I went in goal and helped my team win a state championship."
Patrick is a forward, and a very good one, just like Bobby was for Jamestown 10 years ago. Patrick, a junior, has 16 goals and 12 assists in leading the Eagles to the Bay Rivers District regular season and tournament titles, earning district Player of the Year honors along the way.
The O'Brien brothers hope the road to a second AA state title in three seasons together begins on Tuesday, when the Eagles (13-1-2) host Nottoway (10-2-2) at James City County Stadium in the Region I quarterfinals.
In addtion to lineage and position, the O'Brien brothers share a love of soccer, Jamestown soccer in particular. Bobby starred in leading Jamestown to the 1999 AA final, then scored 21 goals in helping the Eagles reach the 2000 AA semis.
But age — Bobby is 28, Patrick 17 — is not their only difference. Bobby's signature through much of his playing career was his temper.
"We're completely opposite temperamentally, and I've done my best to make it opposite," Bobby said. "When I was growing up, I was what they called `a hot-head,' always yelling at referees and even my own teammates.
"My junior year at Virginia Tech, I got a new coach, Oliver Weiss, who told me if I wanted to be successful at this level, that wouldn't work. Once he changed that, my production went up four times and I became very successful, setting a school record for goals (with 15) as a senior."
As a coach, Bobby discourages his players from bickering with each other on the field or with the referees. Bobby will plead his players' case with the referees when necessary.
Patrick's approach to scoring goals is different than Bobby's was. Where Bobby was a "target player" who waited on passes to head the ball in, Patrick will make the running to create many of his shots.
"I'm probably a little quicker and faster, and he's probably a little stronger and better at finishing," Patrick said. "I look up to him and kind of want to be like him."
But Bobby admires Patrick plenty. Patrick was diagnosed with diabetes only days after the 2008 state title game. Bobby is in awe at how much Patrick has grown up amid the challenge, monitoring his blood sugar faithfully and eating responsibly to maintain it.
Patrick says he won't let the condition prevent him from reaching his goal of playing at Virginia Tech. To that end, Patrick willingly accepts coaching on the smallest details, the ones his older brother believes will land him that college scholarship.
The brothers, and the Jamestown players agree Bobby is probably harder on Patrick than on the rest of the Eagles. Surprisingly, Patrick rarely gets irritated by his brother's focus, even when it's not as warm and fuzzy as that hug two years ago.
"He knows I want to get better and I know when he criticizes me it's to help me get better," Patrick said. "I don't mind it, because I want to follow in his footsteps."
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