By GIUSEPPE UNGARO
Andre Freire is proactive. Whether it’s picking his school, his classes or getting ready for soccer practice, the Ocean City High School senior takes the initiative.
Freire, a Mays Landing resident, initially chose Ocean City in 2014 to be part of the engineering program. He has never regretted his decision. Neither has his fellow students, teachers and soccer coach.
The 17-year-old student, who is ranked 12th in his class and is this edition’s Old Cape Recycling Scholar Athlete, has made the most of his time in Ocean City, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“If I can carbon copy him, and have all my kids act like him every day, we would have a great team. What a pleasure to be around that kid,” said Ocean City boys soccer coach Aaron Bogushefsky.
He added: “He has always been more help to me than any other player that has come through. Just the fact that he won’t be here next year saddens me because I like him as a kid, and as a person. I told the team on multiple occasions if everyone tried to be half a kid he was, we would be a team with great character and leadership skills. I think he is going to do some big things someday.”
“My love for academics has always been there,” said Freire, who credits his parents — both Villanova alums — for stressing education. “I love learning things. I try to do as much as I can on my own, but it’s not always possible. Ocean City is a great place. It’s a well-run school. I’m lucky I got in because of the (school choice) lottery.”
Freire’s school day begins with the drive from Mays Landing. After a full day of Honors and Advanced Placement classes like Calculus BC, Computer Science Principles and Computer Science A, Freire would either practice or participate in soccer games for the Red Raiders.
He works just as hard, if not harder, on the soccer pitch than he does in the classroom. Freire didn’t always get the glory or always play, but he turned himself into a varsity player. He, according to Bogushefsky, also made others around him better during practice.
“The Ocean City soccer program is an amazing program. I love the coach. The coach is amazing. He really loves teaching,” Freire said. “Through all my years — even though I wasn’t on varsity all four years — he would come down and talk to us about what we are doing, preparing us for when we do come up to varsity.”
“The level at which he improved was so dramatic. He got so much better as the year went on,” explained Bogushefsky. “He didn’t see a whole lot of game time this year, but he was one of the greatest practice players. The older I get, the longer I do this, the more I value guys who really bring it at practice. That’s where you get better. I think he really makes people around him better.”
The pitch is not the only place the standout student makes others better. Freire also give his time after school to tutor fellow students at the Homework Hangout.
“I enjoy participating in that because it helps me to give back to the school,” he said.
Like he chose Ocean City, Freire has another choice to make in the near future. The talented senior is looking to go to either Lehigh, Rowan or Drexel next year.
“All the schools I’m applying to are good,” he said. “I’ll be happy with any of them.”
So will the university he chooses.
Contact Giuseppe Ungaro: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDgisepu