By Kim Dunbar
“When I looked at him, he was laughing,” said Comrie, who soon realized it was simply part of McCaffrey’s personality. “He is the happiest kid I’ve ever been around. He’s always smiling.”
The 20-year-old Groton native has plenty to be happy about ~ as a soccer standout at Boston University, McCaffrey has, as Comrie explained, managed to “play himself into a role of being an important player” for the Worcester Hydra in its inaugural season. On June 9, McCaffrey scored the winning goal, and his first of the season, to help lift the Hydra over CFC Azul. It was the first goal for McCaffrey, who will be a junior at BU this fall, since October of his freshman season.
“As a coach, you look for a guy you can trust, who is committed and ‘gets it,’” said Comrie. “He can soak in the information you give him and apply it immediately … He has the mental capacity to handle it and embrace the challenges.”
Not bad for a kid who’s just getting around to tweaking his soccer skills. Born in Scotland, McCaffrey was exposed to soccer early on. After his family moved to the U.S. when he was three, McCaffrey fed his competitive appetite by playing multiple sports, starring in soccer and basketball at Groton Dunstable.
“I was never focused fully on soccer in high school,” McCaffrey said. But as a junior, he realized he was pretty good at it and had a shot at playing for a Division I school. “That’s when I started to focus on it,” he said, adding that he chose it over basketball because it gave him the best chance to attend a good college and perhaps one day play professionally.
McCaffrey has never shied away from capitalizing on a good opportunity. At the encouragement of his coaches, he tried out for Worcester as a way to stay in shape and improve his skills over the summer. According to Comrie, that’s the sign of a great athlete.
“It takes a great deal of commitment to play in the PDL,” said the coach. “It says a lot about what he wants for himself.”
And McCaffrey, a midfielder who has proven to be a valuable and versatile team player, just wants to get better and help the Hydra make the playoffs. “I’m focused on the team stuff right now,” he said.
He’s also showing his coach a thing or two off the pitch. “He teaches you not to take life so serious,” said Comrie. “He’s been a pleasure to work with.”
For more information about the Worcester Hydra, visit www.hydrafc.com.
Top: Derek (R, in orange) in a game against the CFC Azul, photo by Corwyn Miyagishima
Right: Derek McCaffrey, #21, heads the ball, photo by Matt Eisenberg
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