By Andrew Smith
Gary Book was named the ninth head coach in Adelphi men’s soccer history on May 21, 2018. Book has had quite an exciting journey that eventually brought him to Garden City.
Born in Bath, which is located in the Southwest of England, Book played various sports at a young age. From rugby, soccer, cricket, to even tennis, Book was heavily involved in athletics early in his career. When asked which sport was his favorite, he said, “I didn't really have a favorite, but if I could have played professionally at any one sport, I would probably have chosen tennis.”
Book was also influenced and inspired by his family to take part in sports. His uncle was Manchester City’s captain and gave Book the opportunity to meet the players. Book said that his favorite player on the team was midfielder Colin Bell, who was often considered one of the best in the club’s history.
Book went on to graduate from Winchester University with an honors degree in human development. While studying there, Book had his first experience as a coach. In England, most college teams are coached by the students and Book was no exception.
When looking back on influential figures, Book emphasized the importance of Menahem (Mel) Less who led Adelphi’s Panthers to their first and only Division II Championship in 1974. The Adelphi legend allowed Book to come to the United States to coach at his camps located on the Garden City campus.
Book described some elements of the Adelphi campus that have stuck out over his five-year career here. “There is a strong sense of family. The athlete group at Adelphi is an enormously positive force within the university. It bonds to create a wonderful sense of belonging both on the field and also in the way it gives back to both the school and in its service to the local community.”
Every season presents a new challenge and storyline. Book expressed how each season is filled with memories and qualifying in the NCAA tournaments is always the highlight, but looking at the bigger picture is even better. “It is the development of each team and its individual players over the course of the year that really resonates the most in terms of what one remembers long term,” Book reflected.
Attention to detail is what separates a successful team from the pack. “The program and its coaches have a very detailed-oriented approach to practice and preparation. We are a highly technically oriented team compared to most at the college level and spend significant time on technical aspects,” Book explained. “However, those are always related to the context of the next game and what will be required both technically and tactically to provide us with the best chance of success.
“We do focus on our opponent but also feel that a strong focus on our own performance both individually and as a team is paramount to preparing for each game in the most effective way,” he continued. “For us, it is as much about what we are capable of and have to do well as it is about limiting the opposition's strengths.”
Their current schedule of non-conference and conference opponents is fairly difficult; therefore, fine-tuning the small details will be imperative for a win. Book complimented his current team and how driven they are to do what it takes to win. “This group has been especially willing and dedicated to work hard to continually improve all aspects of the way that we play.”
Another factor that Book highlighted was momentum. “Momentum is a crucial element, but our overriding philosophy remains to take our season one game at a time, always striving to maintain a level of success that allows us to control our own destiny.”
Men’s soccer is performing very well and sits three games over .500 at the time of writing and riding a four-game winning streak.
Be sure to come out and support our Panthers when they play their final home game of the regular season on Halloween as they welcome Franklin Pierce University for Senior Night.