Rob Andrulis-John McKenna photo

Forman School and Andrulis a good fit

Picture by John McKenna

LITCHFIELD – Hey Forman School and Athletic Director John Strawson – nice job.  Hiring Rob Andrulis as your new boys soccer coach is worth a pat on the back and a hell yeah.

Andrulis belongs on a soccer field.  He runs soccer camps, has coached high school for most of the century and even married an English lass, Clare, a true Liverpudlian and roots hard for Liverpool.  Over the decades he’s spent enough time on the pitch to become a standard. You know, like the nets and goals, corner kicks and goalie saves.  You expect him to be there. He expects to be there. He’s a soccer guy, it’s in his blood.

A few years back he told me in an interview, “I love the game on the field and talking to the kids. On Saturday and Sunday mornings I watch it on TV. It gets in your veins. It becomes part of you.”

But you wondered over the last several months at best where you would see Andrulis and at worse if you would you see him patrolling the sidelines at all. . With the merger of Litchfield and Wamogo high schools into the new Region 20 Lakeview High beginning this fall, a 23-year tenure as the Litchfield boys coach ended.

A 234-140-30 mark with five Berkshire League titles, 22 state tournament appearances that included a final and four semifinals didn’t seem to mean much at least to the good folks doing the hiring at Lakeview. Andrulis was bypassed with no explanation to either him or the public.  Transparency was that of a dark window shade.

So you wondered. Enter Forman.

“Rob and I had a conversation and he said there were some changes going on,” Strawson said. “He came to us at a perfect time since our coach was leaving. We are definitely excited. We have always had a history of long-time coaches. Scotty McCarty who retired two years ago was here for 42 years.”

“I had heard Alec (former coach Johnson) was not coming back and said I would be interested if the position opened up, “Andrulis said. “I had entertained some calls from other people in the Berkshire League but didn’t want to coach against the current players. I have known John and Craig Lombardi (assistant A.D.) for a while and McCarty for years. They are great guys.”

There is much new in the relationship, a new coach for Forman and for Andrulis, new kids, a new league, a new location. But there is a familiarity that makes the transition easy. He has run his No. 1 Soccer Camp at Forman.  He is familiar with people, the program and the facilities. It is a good fit.

Forman is a school that services students with disabilities specializing in ADHD and dyslexia.  Strawson says it is a program built for Andrulis.

“Rob coaches all different grades in summer camps and can bring down the situation as needed,” Strawson said. “Sometimes you have to go back to the x and 0s with visual learners and other times you have to have the ability to explain it to them. Rob is able to break it down.”

“I went to college for special needs work and worked as a para in the Litchfield system” Andrulis said. “It’s the world we live in and I will rely on faculty and John (Strawson) and Craig (Lombardi) to fill me in. “

Andrulis has always been a winner and his goal is to get Forman back into the winner’s circle. The Lions who play in the Housatonic Valley Athletic League with schools that include Westover-Middlebury, Williams – New London, Worcester – Danbury, Watkinson – Hartford and Kings School –Stamford, are coming off a 4-12 season.

“Forman has had some quality teams in the past and we want to get the program back to where it has been. It has struggled for a couple of years,” Andrulis said. “Whether we have to recruit players or change the culture I don’t know and I can’t wave a magic want but I am committed to make it happen.”

Andrulis admits that part of the transition will be learning where the Lions are at this point.

“I don’t have a clue as to what I’m walking into. I might be pleasantly surprise or see that we have a lot of work to do,” Andrulis said. “I’m going into camp blind. If we are starting from scratch that will be fine.”

Andrulis will still keep his connections with the Berkshire League and on the state level.

“We play our games on Wednesdays and Saturdays so I told Andy (Northwestern Regional coach Campbell) and Toby (Nonnewaug coach Denman) that I will be watching them battle it out for the title,” Andrulis said “They are both good friends of mine. I will continue to serve on the State Coaches Association Board.”

  You get the idea that Forman found its coach and the coach found his school. One of those good fits. It is what both the school and coach deserve.

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