Ricky Konkolewski wasn’t necessarily looking to leave his position as coach of the Westerville North girls soccer team, but when presented with a certain coaching opportunity, he couldn’t turn it down.

Last week, Konkolewski resigned after two seasons with the Warriors to take over as coach of the Olentangy Liberty boys team.

“As I told (North athletics director) Wes (Elifritz), if Liberty comes calling, I have to go,” said Konkolewski, a 2000 Olentangy graduate who has a career coaching record of 144-59-30. “I’m going to miss the girls at North, and they should be good again this year. I expect them to get back to regional again this fall.”

Konkolewski replaces Marc D’Auteuil, who went 50-8-3 in three seasons with Liberty, including 14-0-1 in the OCC-Buckeye Division with titles each season. D’Auteuil also guided the Patriots to a Division I state semifinal in 2018 and to the state final last season.

“(Konkolewski) actually grew up in Powell and graduated from the original Olentangy and then (Ohio University),” Liberty athletics director Darin Meeker said. “Then he went on to have success at three Texas high schools before coaching at Westerville North. He has quite a diverse coaching and teaching background, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him on our staff.”

Konkolewski was a head coach in Texas at Fulshear, Richmond Foster and Sugar Land Kempner before returning to Ohio to coach North, where he went 24-14-2.

Last season, he was named Division I district Coach of the Year, as the Warriors finished 15-4-1 and won their first district championship since 2007 before losing to Dublin Coffman 3-0 in a regional semifinal.

“Ricky did a really nice job of coming in and taking our program to the next level,” Elifritz said. “I hate to lose him, but this allows him to go back to the (school) district he played in. I gave him my best sales pitch to keep him around, but it didn’t work. We wish him the best of luck and I know he will do a good job there.”

Konkolewski will be taking over a Liberty team that finished 18-3-1 and lost to Cleveland St. Ignatius 4-0 in the state final last fall. The Patriots are losing all but one starter, sophomore right back Parker Cameron, to graduation.

“It’s a very interesting time to create a program when you can’t see the players (because of the coronavirus pandemic),” Konkolewski said. “When I took over at North, I was still living out of state and had to coordinate things from afar. It takes a lot of collaboration offline.

“One of the key aspects is knowing it’s a rebuilding situation like at North and with the programs in Texas. It’s a situation that I’m comfortable with doing. We need to identify what Marc was doing, build on that and keep things going. My expectations are high as well.”

shennen@thisweeknews.com

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