For the picture credits to St. Francis Brooklyn Athletic Communications

by Edoardo Giribaldi

There are two sides to Andy Cormack. One is the former captain of the St. Francis College men’s soccer team. The other is now the assistant coach of that same team. 

I was able to sit down with coach Cormack to discuss his career at St. Francis College. Cormack started the conversation, talking about his early life and the beginning of his career.

He said: “As a player, I was a very hard working guy, but as a coach, I like to see the game played flowing like Pep Guardiola.”

He continued: “I come from England … but my parents are Scottish, crazy Glasgow Rangers fans.

“When I was no more than four or five years old, my father would drive me eight hours to see their matches.

“From those days on, I always had a ball on my feet.”

With that ball, Andy started to develop a reputation as one of the better players in his team, Salisbury City.

Then came a shock.

“The team went to administration, so all the players were released … I was 18 years old at the time and didn’t really know what I was going to do with my life …

“My father met somebody from Scotland who, through mutual friends, ran an agency that helped kids come to America with scholarships.

“He spoke about me and my situation and they said ‘why don’t you try to go to America?’

“I didn’t know anything about the system at the time, and I was like: ‘Sure, why not?’.”

New continent, new life.

Was it difficult for him to settle in?

“I remember the first two weeks, where I was considering whether I should have stayed here or not.

“During my freshman year I was ineligible to play. I came here to play soccer and I couldn’t, so it was difficult in that sense but a lot of my teammates at the time were from England or Scotland, they helped me a lot.”

As soon as he entered his sophomore year at St Francis, Andy immediately showed his ability as a defender.

But he is best remembered for scoring, in 2013 and 2014, the winning goals — two long-range free kicks — that gave St Francis the NEC title in successive years.

“It was amazing, not just for me but for the entire team: we hadn’t won a championship for 15 years … all the hard work was repaid.

“The goal for the season was never really to win the championship; we just said: ‘Let’s get to the playoff and see what happens.’

“We arrived at the finals and then … two wonderful freekicks, with the overtime that makes it all more dramatic.”

Two titles and two different mentalities, according to Andy.

“The second year we lost nine players from 2013 team, so we basically had a new team with a couple of guys from the year before … the talent from 2013 was a little bit higher, but the 2014 players were dying on the field to win and that makes the difference.

“They talk about the freekicks, but it was all the work done before that that got us in that situation.”

Once he graduated, while he was deciding whether to leave the US or not, St. Francis gave him a new, exciting opportunity.

“My coach asked me to stay and work with him for one year.

“I loved it every minute, and now here I am, four years later, still loving every second of my job.”

The conversation moved on to Cormack’s inspirational players.

“When I was a kid my favorite player was a guy called Peter Løvenkrands, a Danish wing that played, of course, for Glasgow Rangers.”

He continued: “As a coach, I stick with the mentality that we teach here at St. Francis ‘defend to win.’

“Defense is the way, in my opinion.

“It’s interesting because if you look at some of the greatest coaches in the world, they weren’t necessarily considered the superstars of the game, they probably saw the game but couldn’t apply it.

“It’s all about the ‘mind’ part of the game. To become a coach, you have to see it.”

A new season has started, the fourth for Andy as assistant coach.

Asked about his expectations, he replies: “Playoffs is the goal, and then we’ll see what happens.

“The preseason was excellent, we’ve only given up one goal, and the new players seem to be really into our philosophy of game.”

On his future, Andy expresses a wish to become a head coach at some stage.

“But I still have a few years down the line.”

It’s evident that football has played a crucial role in Andy’s life.

“Of course, it taught me a lot about accountability and hard work. I take them in everyday life. Football has really molded me as a person.”

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