Boys Soccer, Coach Feature, Fall Sports, Sports

Edwin Escobar Brings European Game Strategy to Andover Boys Soccer

D.Zhu/The Phillipian

Escobar works to form lasting connections with each player.

Andover Boys Soccer Head Coach Edwin Escobar was first introduced to the game of soccer by his father while growing up in Venezuela, and he went on to coach at both the varsity and JV levels at Tabor before coming to Andover.

In his second year at Andover, Coach Escobar centers his leadership around extending his own passion for the game to his players.

“I learned from my good friend… Kevin Graber [Senior Assistant Director of Admissions] and very quickly as a coach… [that] you have to show your players that you genuinely care, because if you show them that you care, then you are going to get good results on the field,” said Coach Escobar.

The team especially appreciates Coach Escobar for the lasting partnerships and candid communication he engages in with his players, according to Lucas Stowe ’20 and Co-Captain Henry Rogers ’19.

Stowe wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “Coach [Escobar] is different than all other coaches I’ve ever had. He is the definition of a player’s coach. You can tell that he cares deeply for every player on his team like we were his own children. He gets on us, but it’s only because he cares and wants success for everyone. He frequently meets with players on a one-on-one basis, and this helps for individual feedback.”

Rogers said, “He’s a really easy coach to work with as a captain, [when] trying to be a liaison with the coaches and the players… He’s really open with his players, and he tells the entire team, but specifically [Co-Captain Max Levi ’19] and I, what he’s thinking. He really values our input about decisions he makes, and decisions for the better of the team. He’s the coach, and he really has the final say, but he really values what the people on the team think and the way our players respond to certain things.”

Coach Escobar’s European game strategy, based around technique and passing rather than speed and strength, is unusual for an American team, according to Daniel Cho ’21. Coach Escobar spent time in Spain last summer at a coaching seminar focused on learning the new game strategy.

Cho wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “Most of the training that we do is based around the principle of keeping possession of the ball by passing around, so that the other team ultimately tires out. As a fairly new coach, [Coach] Escobar is trying to build a soccer program that mirrors that of European and Spanish soccer, as opposed to the notorious “kick-and-run” soccer that American varsity soccer is often known for. That means that Escobar is building a very technically skilled team that focuses on breaking down the opposition through skills and passes, rather than speed and muscle.”

Escobar’s practices usually contain passing, game-scenario drills, practice on the team’s weak points, according to David O’Brien ’21.

“We often start out with a passing drill, like a rondo [a player attempts to steal the ball from a ring of players surrounding him], then we’ll often get into some positional stuff where we play possession, and then in the end, if we’re lucky, we’ll get to scrimmage and get some in-game practice. We try to be a passing team, even though it can be hard at times, and always working on keeping our composure and keeping cool under pressure is important, and it translates into games,” said O’Brien.

Escobar’s constant encouragement, despite the outcome of a game or practice, is also one of his distinctive qualities, according to Kion Young ’20 and Ethan Hong ’22.

“After a game — whether we win, lose, or tie — he always is encouraging us and telling us to focus on the next one. If we lose, he focuses on really specific things we need to work on as a team, like passing, foot skills, long balls: very specific things that we’ll do the next practice. He just keeps up the encouragement. He’s never negative. He never gets mad at anyone, and that’s one of my favorite things about him,” said Young.

Hong wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “He pushes us during training a lot by inspiring us, not by yelling or instilling fear in us like a lot of other coaches do. He wants us to be great and successful, and encourages and supports us everyday, and we take that to the heart when we practice.”

According to Coach Escobar, it is important to him that his players learn from their mistakes in order to improve their game.

“We look at mistakes as an opportunity for us to get better at something. We don’t want to focus too much on the things we do wrong on the field to criticize one another. Rather, we look at those things, like I said, as an opportunity for us to learn from them. We build off of that. That’s the only way you really develop as a player, is by working on the things you know you need to work on,” said Escobar.

Sep 28, 2018