On a good day, there’s nothing but blue and green to be seen on Farrar Pond in Lincoln.
Cole DeNormandie sets out with a friend on a small canoe, casts his fishing line and waits. The atmosphere is easy to take. It requires only a certain patience. And paired with an appreciation for nature, the quiet can be calming.
Once one of the best high school soccer players in the state, DeNormandie is now a well-traveled 20-year-old trying to find his place in the game he’s become synonymous with. Being roped from position to position and moving from team to team as his career advancement dictates, he has to maintain his calm.
Awarded the opportunity to train with the New England Revolution’s first team this summer, DeNormandie has been mingling with some of the best soccer players in the country on a daily basis. With the top of the mountain so close, losing focus could be costly.
But patience is DeNormandie’s strong suit.
“It’s one of the first things I noticed about him when he came on board: He doesn’t get rattled,” said Jimmy Costas, head coach of the Real Boston Rams, an affiliate of the Revolution that competes in the Player Development League. “He has a great demeanor. He’s one of those quiet leaders.”
Depending on who is asked, there are several different scouting reports for the 6-foot-1, 190-pound DeNormandie, who made his name at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High.
A striker at heart, the midfield has suddenly been calling him, both in his sophomore year at the University of Cincinnati and, lately, during his time with the Rams. Yet his body and playing style could lend itself to an outside back position as he advances.
For some players, that could pose a problem.
Telling a natural goal-scorer — one who found the net 64 times over his high school career — to start trying to set up others for goals as a midfielder, or to change roles entirely as a defender, can be like yelling into water; the message fails to make it all the way through. And some players can never make that transition, refuse to change positions, and seek a new team.
“That’s a big part of my game . . . that I can adapt,” DeNormandie said. “Instead of being focused on forward and saying, ‘Well, if I’m not going to play forward then I’ll switch teams,’ if you need me to play center mid, I’ll play it.”
DeNormandie’s athleticism and skill automatically make him a coveted player. His attitude and patience push him toward the top of even the most talented prospect lists.
In winning Big East all-freshman honors at Cincinnati in 2011, DeNormandie led the Bearcats and was tied for sixth in the conference with seven goals. The following year he netted three, but dished out four assists as he spent some time roaming the midfield.
As it always has, word of his play on the field spread, eventually reaching Boston College, where coach Ed Kelly has reigned for almost 30 years. Kelly knew DeNormandie from the forward’s time with the Revolution Academy. The coach offered him a chance to come home and DeNormandie took it, transferring to BC this spring (he received his release from Cincinnati).
“It was the easiest transition I could have had,” he said.
Now he has to find his place this fall.
The Eagles, who have qualified for the NCAA tournament in six straight seasons, graduated electric striker Charlie Rugg, who left the program ranked fifth all-time in goals (28) and was drafted 19th overall by the Los Angeles Galaxy in this year’s MLS SuperDraft.
There’s an open spot at center forward for a program that has graduated such dynamos as Charlie Davies and Alejandro Bedoya, each of whom has spent time on the US men’s national team.
“That’s why we got him and why he came,” Kelly said of DeNormandie’s ability to score goals. “But to be quite honest, I don’t know enough of the young man to say what he’s going to do, if it’s what some of the other boys have done here. I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on him.
“Goal-scorers are very fickle kind of guys. We’ll take Cole as he comes. We’ll see how he goes from there. Saying, ‘We have this guy coming in and I think he can score than more Charlie Davies,’ I don’t do that kind of stuff. I just see a young kid coming in with good tools, and we’ll see what he does in front of the goal.”
Kelly won’t add pressure to DeNormandie with words, but there’s already plenty of weight on the young striker’s shoulders.
The Revolution selected him as one of three homegrown players the Rams would bring on their team, thus providing the necessary time of affiliated training that he can’t be drafted by another MLS team when he leaves college. Assuming DeNormandie sticks around and continues to develop, his status with the Revolution could keep him with the club if they want him, unless he decides to pursue an opportunity overseas.
“Cole has come in and not only trained well, but Cole gets it,” said Mike Burns, general manager of the Revolution. “He’s very respectful of the older guys. He’s trying to soak it in and learn as much as possible. He fits right in.”
“It has been a whirlwind,” DeNormandie admitted. “You just kind of go with the flow. I guess you have to stop and just take it all in, because it’s a big opportunity. It’s fun. You don’t want to miss out on the fun.”
So DeNormandie practices with the Revolution each morning, leaving his home around 7:30 a.m. and departing Foxborough at about 1 p.m. He has night practices and weekend games with the Rams. And he’s taking a three-hour French class at Boston College four nights a week.
There’s no time for much else. No time for a job. No time to stress over which position he might be playing.
But just enough time to fish.
There’s always time to practice patience.Jason Mastrodonato can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.