Football coach Andrews works will girls’ soccer team at KHS

It’s not a surprise to see the local high school teams engaged in summer workouts as they prepare for the upcoming season.

But three mornings a week, shortly after the sun comes up, the Kearny girls soccer team is on the high school turf and not a soccer ball is in sight. Instead, a group of 20-25 girls are out on the field as part of an extensive summer strength and conditioning run by current head football coach and 15-year trainer Steven Andrews.

“The girls have really bought in,” said Andrews, who also runs a similar strength and conditioning program with the Kardinals football team in the afternoon. “They trust me and they trust themselves to come in and work hard. It’s been fantastic to see how hard this group of girls have been working.

“I’m so proud of them and the work they do every day and we have fun doing it. I think it builds some real team chemistry.”

For the Kearny girls, the chemistry is getting built at 7:20 a.m. with Andrews’ workouts starting at 7:30 and going for two hours, three days a week. Monday is dedicated to interval training aimed at building endurance. Wednesday’s emphasis is on speed with an emphasis on sprints and working fast. Thursday is the only day that incorporates soccer-specific skills, but the focus is placed on acceleration and agility.

Each day also concludes with weightlifting.

The program started five weeks ago right after high school graduation and continues for another two to three weeks before the official start of the high school soccer season later this month.

“The biggest part of all of it is the confidence (they gain). I really try to instill confidence in them,” Andrews said. “Each week I’ve seen the girls getting more confident in the weight room, the girls being a little more confident with their speed, with their conditioning. Once you’re confident in the conditioning, you can do the workout even harder than you were doing it last week and that improves the next workout.

“When you work hard, you get what you put in. And they’re all working hard so they’re all improving.”

While offseason strength and conditioning are common, they are usually done at private facilities and not by coaches in the building.

“I’m sure other teams do stuff like this,” Andrews said. “Maybe they will go to a Parisi or something like that. I think what’s different with this is that I’ve been in the field for the last 15 years and I love Kearny soccer. I have a pretty good grasp on how to train soccer players.”

Off-season team training for soccer is nothing new for Andrews, a Kearny alum and a football and track star at TCNJ. Andrews worked with the Kearny girls’ soccer team for two summers when current athletic director Vin Almeida was the head coach. He also spent five seasons working with the Harrison boys’ soccer program and one with the Kearny boys’ team.

The genesis for this summer’s program actually started during the winter. Andrews had a longtime relationship with the family of star basketball player Maci Covello and he had started training her and a couple of others, including Julia Araujo.

Following the conclusion of the basketball season, at the urging of head coach Jody Hill, Andrews started a strength and conditioning program with the players with Hill shooting video of their work.

Covello, Araujo and others, who worked with him during the spring then pushed for Andrews to work with the soccer team this summer. It was a plan that head coach Michael Sylvia was fully on board with as well.

“Coach Hill really was the catalyst for all of this,” Andrews said. “She would shoot my videos of training people and she would push the girls to ‘go see Coach Andrews to go get better, get stronger, get more agility, get faster.’

“You can’t run a program the way that I would like to run a program without the trust from the coaches. They’re the people that are selling my program to their athletes so if they’re not buying into what I’m doing, they’re not going to tell their athletes to come. I just think the coaches see that I love Kearny school sports and this is what I do for a living. I’ve been doing this for the past 15 years. They trust in that and they trust that I will always do the right thing by their athletes.”

And with that trust comes the belief that the work in July will produce wins and championships in October and November.

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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer

Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)