CLIFTON PARK — Change can be a good thing.
Shenendehowa senior and boys’ soccer captain Conor Brown moved from his native country of Ireland and has made the most of his time in the United States — on and off the soccer field.
“I think it’s been brilliant,” Brown said. “Your expectations for academics are through the roof, it’s really amazing. I was never a student that teachers or tutors would look at and be like, ‘That guy will go to college.’ Over here, I think my grades prove otherwise.”
Brown said that he was not an ideal student.
“I was not passing classes over in Ireland, and I come over here I’m getting 90s as my average,” Brown said.
There was also an adjustment for Brown on the soccer field.
“In Europe, I see it more as it’s more mentally stressful, because everyone’s always going with tactics, it’s all about tactics,” Brown said. “It’s also about your fitness and your skill level. The pace of the game is a lot different over there, too, it might be a bit slower over here.”
Being introduced to Shenendehowa head coach Jon Bain also became a perfect fit for Brown who moved to Clifton Park to join his father, Edward Brown, who owns British American Remodel and Design.
“I haven’t really ever met someone like Coach Bain because he’s very, very tactical and I think it’s really, really good,” Brown said. “Usually coaches come into the game, and they’re like, ‘You’ve got to worry about your fitness, just play two-touch [and pass the ball].’ He’s more ahead of that, he expects and he’s more on to the advanced part of the game, which is a lot better than a lot of coaches that I’ve been with.”
Bain was introduced to Brown during the then-younger soccer player’s summer visit to the Capital Region during a tryout with the NY Elite Soccer Club. Bain is the Director of Coaching at NY Elite.
“When Conor came and trained [at NY Elite], I could see that he could play,” Bain said. “Then I got him in Shen and I just saw how hard he works and how tough he was.”
Brown was a postseason addition to the varsity team, a freshman called up from JV, to experience the Plainsmen’s state Final Four run.
“Then he scored an unbelievable goal in the Suburban Council tournament to tie the game as a sophomore,” Bain said. “I knew we had something special.”
Brown is now a senior captain during his third year on varsity.
“I’ve been playing since I was two years old and I’ve always played on teams two years older than me,” Brown said. “So I’m already ahead when it comes to the tough part of the game, where you know you need to have a dogfight to win or to get a point.”
Brown also brings another natural skill to the pitch — he is left-footed.
“He’s a great ball striker, so he can get free on his own with his left, or if I play him as an inverted winger,” Bain said. “He can cut inside from the right side and penetrate in there. So it’s kind of like a double-edged sword.”
In Tuesday’s 3-0 Suburban Council win against Averill Park, Brown sent a corner kick into the box for Matt Gleason to head in for the early 1-0 lead. In the second half, it was Tanner Rock who sent in a corner that Brown was able to head in for his lone goal of the contest.
With his noticeable skills on the soccer field and a solid rise in his academics, Brown again is in foreign territory thinking about attending college.
“I never grew up thinking that I would go to college, I was thinking that I’d do three years in secondary school, what we call it, and then drop out and get a job, to get maybe an apprenticeship,” Brown said. “Over here, there’s a very good chance that you have a really good future by going to college. So that’s always exciting.”
Until his college choice is made, Brown remains in the moment.
“I’m not really the guy that always thinks way ahead,” he said. “I’m more down to Earth, I’ve got to worry about today not tomorrow.
“Right now, what’s next for me is to go to states,” he said. “We’re gonna fight for a sectional championship, again, we’re going to get to the regionals and we’re [going to] win that, too. Then we’re gonna get the states and we’ll see what happens.”