Massachusetts Maritime Men's Soccer Coach Greg Perry Celebrates 20th Season
By: Dan Crowley
On Friday, August 31, when the Massachusetts Maritime Academy men’s soccer team takes the field at Clean Harbors Stadium for their season opener against Curry College, it will usher in the 20th season for Buccaneer Head Coach Greg Perry.
Perry grew up playing the game. He played in high school for four seasons at Bridgewater-Raynham where he was a two-time team captain. During his high school years, the Trojans lost just four matches, winning the state championship during his sophomore season. In college Perry played four years with the Westfield State Owls and was a team captain in his final two seasons. After college he moved into coaching at the high school level. His numerous coaching positions include three seasons of coaching soccer at Bridgewater-Raynham and a season at Cardinal Spellman High School.
“I was coaching at a soccer camp when I was still in high school,” Coach Perry explained. “I have two older brothers who were coaches and it carried over. It is a family tradition.”
Mike Perry has coached at Cardinal Spellman for 37 years, while Steve Perry was an assistant baseball coach at Westfield State.
Greg Perry arrived at Massachusetts Maritime in 1993 and was hired to coach by Athletic Director Bob Corradi on the recommendation of former MMA men’s soccer coach, Peter Kasarjian.
“That first season was crazy to say the least,” Perry smiled. “I was hired in the spring of 1993 and we had 10 to 12 kids that were interested in playing soccer. We ended up with 26 kids on the team. Honestly, we had more heart than talent. We went 4-15-1 that first year, but those kids showed up every day and worked hard. Even when we were on the losing end, they showed a desire to play. They wanted to be on the field. We started out 0-7. It was tough, but some of those games we only lost 2-1 or 1-0 and that was without a lot of talent.”
Over 19 seasons Perry has recorded 129 victories and was twice named the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference Coach of the Year. He is currently the longest active men’s soccer coach in the conference.
“The program has grown head and shoulders from where we were back then,” he said. “We were always getting better, but the other state schools were getting better along with us. With today’s economy and more kids going into the state schools, there is even more talent. Here, at Mass Maritime, you really can’t recruit kids. A kid has to show an interest in the school; that’s when you recruit them to play soccer. We’re a small school. We’re an underdog all the time. But being the underdog and knowing it, I think, makes our guys put up more of a fight.”
Because of his accomplishments and longevity, Coach Perry has been referred to as the “Dean” of MASCAC soccer coaches.
“I don’t know about that,” he smiled. “I think it is an accomplishment to stay at a Division 3 school like this and build a program. I came here on a four-year deal and a handshake and stayed 20 years. None of it would have been possible without the support of our athletic director (Bob Corradi), the athletic department, the parents and our former players. They have all been unbelievable over the years. They know what we’re up against. One of my greatest challenges has been helping the kids to balance academics, the regiment and soccer. I try to get them to give 100 percent in all three. It’s hard, but it’s definitely possible. Our guys do it.”
As the soccer program at Massachusetts Maritime grew under Perry’s guidance, the style of play advanced from a simple kick-and-run offense to a more sophisticated approach. As the talent level and team success grew, offenses became more complicated, building out of the backfield, with formations that evolve to match an individual opponent. Asked what is the perfect offense, the perfect formation, and the perfect game plan, Coach Perry laughs, “The one where the Bucs win.”
Asked to name what he thought might be the highlight of 19 years of coaching the Buccaneers, Coach Perry answered, “Brendan Duggan. He has been by far the biggest and best thing to come out of this program so far. Brendan was a phenomenal athlete. He had an offer to play soccer in Brazil. (Duggan played Buccaneer soccer from 2002 to 2005. He received All-American honors, is MMA’s all-time leading scorer, was the MASCAC player of the year in 2005, and was inducted into the Massachusetts Maritime Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011.) But all our kids bring something to the table. As much as we try to teach them, they’re teaching us. I think I’ve learned as much from my guys as I’ve taught them.”
Massachusetts Maritime is not grooming professional soccer players. The emphasis in higher division programs may be on soccer after college, but on the MMA Buzzards Bay campus, Coach Perry is preparing his players for the rest of their lives.
“It is about teaching life skills,” he said. “The game of soccer is a reflection of life and I’m teaching my guys the skills that they’ll need on and off the field. I want them to be winners on the field and in life. Our teams are like family. I have a good rapport with the kids. I’m not a whistle blower. I don’t bring a whistle. I do all the drills with my guys. If I can do it, they can do it.”
For two decades Greg Perry has mentored his players through the tough times and the good.
“I absolutely love it,” he said. “I love every minute. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to go back into the high school system to teach and coach, but I love what I have here. I can honestly say this is my second family. Even when we’re losing, we stick together. You win together; you lose together. And it’s great when you have an AD that supports you the way Bob Corradi does.”
Will there be a third decade or more down the road for Perry? “I don’t know if I’ll be coaching here for 40 years like (Bob) Corradi,” Coach Perry laughed, “but there is a good possibility. It seems like I just started yesterday.”
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