Notable Men: Andrew Chadwick

When Andrew Chadwick received an email from ESPN saying that he’d been selected as the ESPN High School Soccer Coach of the Year, he was shocked. “It was totally unexpected,” he said. “Out of all the teams and coaches in the whole country, I don’t know how they chose me.”

Of course, Chadwick won’t take the credit for the award. “It’s nice to be recognized, but soccer is a player’s game,” he said. “Most of it has to do with the players and the success they’ve had over the last 10 years. And winning the state championship probably helped.”

Yes, in the 10 years Chadwick has coached at Green Hope High School, his team has definitely had a lot of success. They’ve made it to the state playoffs every year, the semifinals for four years, and the State Championship game once — finally winning the title once and for all this past season. That certainly seems like a record any coach — and player — might be proud of.

Chadwick has a long personal history with soccer. He grew up on the soccer field, influenced by his father, who was a professional soccer player and accomplished coach. He played year-round growing up, and eventually went to Clemson with a soccer scholarship. But after two years, he transferred to Georgia to pursue a business degree and ended up playing on the football team as the kicker.

Even with that short stint in college football, soccer was always his main sport. “I always planned on keeping soccer as a part of my life, keep up with the game,” he said. “I had a coach once tell me that you need to give back to the game. And I wanted to do that.”

He did when, while playing on an adult recreational soccer league in 2001, he stumbled upon the chance to volunteer as an assistant coach at a new high school. Green Hope High School’s head coach, one of Chadwick’s team members, asked if anyone else on the team might be willing to help out for the season. Chadwick accepted and enjoyed the season.

However, the head coach moved away after that first year, and Chadwick got a phone call from the high school athletic director asking if he would take over. Chadwick, who works full-time at Matrix Resources, an information technology consulting company in RTP, and not as a faculty member at the high school, was surprised.

“I didn’t know I could do that,” he said. “But I’d always wanted to coach.” In college, before majoring in business, he had planned to be a high school English teacher and soccer coach.

He was almost deterred by the fact that he had to get a commercial driver’s license to drive the team’s school bus to games. But he finally agreed to be the coach — for two years. “And here I am, 10 years later,” he laughed.

“There were two reasons I stayed, year after year: 1) I absolutely loved it and 2) I wanted to stay till we won the state championship. We got really close every year, and I kept coming back saying I’d stay till we won it.”

Chadwick was fully invested in being the best possible coach he could be for his team. “When I was in high school, our coach was the science teacher, and he didn’t know anything about soccer. I would really regress during the school season because I didn’t learn anything from him. I wanted these kids to have a better high school experience than I did.”

However, after his first few seasons, he realized he needed some help. “I was a good player — I’d played my whole life; I knew the game,” he said. “But I wasn’t a very good coach. I needed to learn how to communicate and teach the game better.”

So he enrolled in U.S. Soccer Federation coaching courses, and progressed to the most advanced level, the National “A” Coaching License. The “A” License involves a two-week on-site training session on coaching theory and practice, and only about 800 coaches in the U.S. have it.

Most of those with the “A” License are college coaches; it’s rare for high school coaches to progress that far. But Chadwick did. “I had a fear of failing my players,” he said. “So I ended up becoming an over-qualified high school coach.”

One of the things that Chadwick loved most about coaching was the unique challenge it presented every year. “If I was a college coach, I could go recruit the specific players I needed. But in high school, you’re restricted to who lives in your district and who shows up for tryouts. That was the most fun part for me as a coach — I have what I have, and I have to make it work. The dynamic every year was different.”

Many people have asked Chadwick what his secret to success has been. He says that he always remembers the comments he’s heard from parents over the years: “I always had parents telling me that they’ve never seen their kids play soccer with such confidence.” Building confidence and empowering his players has always been one of his goals as a coach. “I think that’s what the job of the coach is — to put the players in positions where they can have success. Confidence comes from success, both individually and as a team.”

Unfortunately for Green Hope, Chadwick will not be returning after this last triumphant season — and not just because they finally won the championship. He had decided before the 2011 season had even started that it was going to be his last season.

“Everything changed when I had kids,” he said. “Now that my daughter is 6, she has lots of activities that I miss out on when I’m gone every night for four months a year.” His kids, daughter Claire and 3-year-old son Callum, are his priority. “I’m teaching my daughter how to golf so that I can take her with me whenever I go. I want to have time to do things like that.”
Still, it was a nice coincidence that they ended up winning the championship his final year. “I had 13 seniors on the team this year, and I told them, ‘We’re all seniors. This is our last year. Let’s end this thing right.’ And we did. It was really a neat feeling.”

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