Regardless of how things turn out the rest of this semester, Alma senior Andrew Duncan knows where he’s going.
Inspired by the work of Patti Webb, the athletic trainer for the Airedales and Lady Airedales, Duncan is looking at studying anatomy and physiology to go into athletic training himself.
“Our athletic trainer Patti puts a spotlight on it and got me hooked,” said Duncan. “She does an amazing job at Alma. I kind of wanted to do it and once they got me started, it grew from there.”
Duncan said he has a few options to where he’s going to school including UCA and University of the Ozarks in Clarksville and he added UofO had a “very humbling environment.”
Duncan is one of the seniors of the team who has been with the program since the beginning of the Alma soccer program since it began when he was sophomore. The first season was played with just a JV schedule, but the team began varsity play last year. Duncan has played soccer for 13 years from the Boys & Girls Club and the River Valley Soccer Club and various other teams and organizations.
“It’s been a ride,” Duncan said. “I got involved from an early age and I just found the whole-team aspect was very compelling to me. Soccer makes you think a lot. It’s a brain thing and it’s addicting.”
‘He’s always working on individual training,” said Alma coach Cory Sturdivant. “Many times I would drive by the soccer field at the Middle School here in Alma and he’s out there getting work on his own. He also motivates our other guys to step up their game. If he can train with some of our other kids he invites them to come, but he also focuses a lot on developing his skill outside of team practices on his own.”
Duncan also played football and recently ran for the track and field team, but soccer is what he’s missing due to the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19. Schools in Arkansas were originally shut down back in mid-March, but there’s uncertainty if anything returns to normal after the next deadline on April 17.
“It’s very unfortunate,” said Duncan. “But you gotta do what you can so it won’t get a whole lot worse.”
Duncan began as a goalkeeper and moved to defense and later to a midfield position and then to striker. “Yeah, I’m like a Swiss Army knife,” said Duncan. “Soccer is a game that doesn’t stop. There’s no time to think about the mistake you just made. You just got to forget about it. It helps to have a short-term memory. I just got to push it out of my mind.”
“This season we were finally able to give him the chance to move back to the striker position and he scored the opening goal of the 2020 season,” Sturdivant said. “He’s a great kid and one that understands how much hard work it takes to build a program from the ground. I’m very proud of him.”
The senior soccer player was born in Spiro before his parents moved to the Alma area. He added soccer has helped him learn how to deal with other things off the field.
While he has played in a variety of stadiums and venues, home is where the heart is.
“Alma’s turf and stadium are really nice, the best I ever played in,” Duncan said. “I would like to play at Van Buren’s [Blakemore] Field again. It’s nice, but unfortunately, we won’t be able to play there again this year.”
Duncan, who draws his inspiration from Christian Pulisic and Jadon Sancho, said his best game this season was against Vilonia at home early in March.
“I had two goals in that game. Robinson was fun and I was able to cut up two goals against Bebee,” said Duncan. “We’ve gotten better at teamwork. We got a whole lot more soccer IQ… when we get the ball we know what we’re going to do.”
As the team captain Duncan gathers the players in the fieldhouse, stands up on the bench and gives a pre-game speech. “I guess it’s more of a team ritual than a me ritual.”
“He was pretty quiet at first in practices but matured and became a leader for his team both his junior and senior year,” said Sturdivant. “He’s a player every coach loves to have.”
Fun Questions with Andrew Duncan
What is your biggest fear? Spiders. Definitely.
Superpower? Super speed.
What pet would you love to have? I would like to have a tiger. If you grow up with them they can be tame. I think they’ll be cool to have.
If you weren’t at home now, what would you be doing? I’ll be at soccer practice right now.
Since you have lots of free time? I’ve been reading for school. I like to give myself a mental break so there’s lots of Netflix and YouTube.
Pet peeve? People using the wrong your or there.
Annoying habits? I’ll spend about 30 minutes kicking the ball off the front porch. It’s a repetitive noise for 30 minutes. I’ve been using those videos online to work on my skills. I definitely think this time is an opportunity to get better as an individual.
Biggest inspiration? Recently it has been Tashae Andall-Gibbons. He grew up in England, grew up in slums of England, got into the Premier League team, and rose himself up.
What is the first thing you’re going to do when this is all over? Going to hang out with my friends and team. I will do that in a minute.