Faculty Friday: Bobby Ross

Each school year, the faculty at Nichols School provide tremendous guidance and encouragement to help their students learn and grow. Our faculty members are empowered to craft the curriculum as they see fit, to make learning relevant and rewarding for every child.
Faculty Friday features the outstanding teachers of Nichols School and showcases the work they do to help our students and our community.

Bobby Ross is in his sixth year teaching physical education at Nichols, and just finished his third season coaching varsity boys soccer. Coach Ross led the team to a Monsignor Martin league championship win this past fall, and Ross was named Coach of the Year in Class B by the New York State Sportswriters and Coaches Organization (NYSSCO). He previously played collegiate soccer at SUNY Brockport from 2010-13 and was recently named to their conference’s Men’s Soccer All-Decade Team

In our interview, Coach Ross shared what he enjoys most about how he helped his team approach this past season with a positive mindset, what he learned from college soccer that translates over to coaching at Nichols, and what he enjoys most about making physical education fun for students.

What parts of your collegiate soccer experience best prepared you for coaching?
A lot of the things I did in college, I transitioned to what I was doing in JV or varsity. It’s a different skillset and the way they look at the game. The love of the game transferred a lot for me. The boys see my passion and really latch on to that. I also do a lot of the same drills that I do in college with the teams here, get the competition flowing, and that’s what we want to see on the pitch on game days.

What was your message to your soccer team this fall, helping the players through the uncertainty of COVID-19? 
It really started last school year when the pandemic started, and the message off the bat was just positivity. You can’t let all this negativity and the hearsay drag you down. I told the boys you’re lucky to be playing and have a season. You might have to wear a mask when you come off the field, but you still have this opportunity and you never know when it’s going to be taken away or not. 

There were times where it looked like we might transition to online learning, and I told the team you play your role, you do your thing and stay positive. But that goes with school work and anything you do, you can’t let outside distractions pull you away from something, especially if it’s your passion.

Through a championship winning season, what was the biggest factor that drove the team’s success?
I always remind the team that they’re the underdogs playing against some larger schools. You should always play like you’re an underdog no matter what. You should worry about what you can do, and we reminded players of that this year. We put Nichols on the map now with the team’s success the past few years.

Why do you enjoy teaching?
For my department, I just love trying new things. The kids in the Middle School, and even in the Upper School too, they know I like to try a lot of different games. We’ll try something and I’ll ask the kids at the end of the class, “Did that work?” Sometimes they’ll tell me it stunk, and that’s fine. I love trying new things and I’ll never stop doing that because that’s how you find those hidden gems, the cooperative games that kids love. The smile on their faces with those types of games, that’s what I love most. 

My parents were both physical education teachers too, and my grandfather was a PE teacher and an athletic director. Even through college I knew this was what I wanted to do. The enjoyment that I can bring to kids in this role, that’s what keeps me going.

What do you enjoy most about Nichols?
The kids here have so many options that you don’t see at other schools. There are so many club options and activities, and they’re free to just pop in and try something they might like. I think it’s the amount of opportunities they have here to spread their wings, and it helps them find out what they do like and what they don’t like. That’s a huge thing to be able to go forward into college and life and remember all the things they tried at Nichols. I think that’s something that just brings awareness to kids and helps them moving forward, so that when they get to college, they can complete that image of who they want to become.

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Nichols School is a nationally recognized college preparatory coed independent school with a 130-year history.