Loud Lessons Learned

Rams forward Cole DeNormandie (center, top row), who spent two years with the Revolution U-18s, is learning the ropes of professional soccer this summer. (Photo: Real Boston Rams/bostonrams.com)

Rams forward Cole DeNormandie (center, top row), who spent two years with the Revolution U-18s, is learning the ropes of professional soccer this summer. (Photo: Real Boston Rams/bostonrams.com)

EASTON, Mass. – Cole DeNormandie has been yelled at quite a lot during the past two months. Not that he’s complaining, mind you.

In recent weeks, the Real Boston Rams forward has become a regular fixture around the Revolution training pitch, where he’s gotten a strong dose of shouts and criticisms from players and coaches alike.

Even so, the former Revolution U-18 star has not only endured it – he’s actually welcomed it.

“It’s been great,” DeNormandie said recently. “It’s just (a part of) that next level of soccer. You learn so much training with (the first team). When I come in, the speed’s so much faster and the players are so competitive.”

The next level is exactly what the Revolution Academy product is hoping to reach in the coming years. After DeNormandie spent two years the Revolution U-18s, he moved on to play at the University of Cincinnati for his freshman and sophomore seasons before transferring to Boston College in January.

All the while, though, the Revolution has kept its Homegrown protection status on him, with the hopes that he’ll follow in the footsteps former U-18 captain Scott Caldwell and become another Academy signing in the years to come.

To that end, the Revolution encouraged the Lincoln, Mass. native to play with the Rams, their PDL affiliate in Easton. There, under the guidance of Rams general manager John Barata and head coach Jim Costa, the Revolution can monitor the progress of the 20-year-old striker and other Homegrown products.

While that arrangement could yield dividends for the Revolution down the road, Costa sees the immediate benefits that a player of DeNormandie’s skill, not to mention first-team training experience, can bring to a club as young as the Rams.

“Training with an MLS first side, you pick up little intricacies,” Costa said. “You see how things are done on the professional level, and it’s great for us because now he can translate it to our team a little bit.”

Although he hasn’t found the back of the net for the Rams through his first seven games, DeNormandie isn’t all that concerned about statistics. Instead, he’s using his minutes to focus on his long-term goals and, in the process, has also started to display some leadership skills.

“We had (ex-Revolution midfielder) Andrew Sousa here for a while, and I think we ended up being a little too dependent upon him,” Costa said. “But Cole has the demeanor to be a very good leader for us, and I’d like to see him a little more in that role because I think he can do it.”

Of course, it hasn’t been easy for DeNormandie this summer. The PDL season kicked off in the midst of finals at Chestnut Hill, and since then, DeNormande has spent the past two months commuting between training in Foxborough and road-tripping across the region with the Rams.

“It’s been tough trying to juggle both,” DeNormandie said. “Sometimes, I’ll end up doing two-a-days, going to the Revs in the morning, and Rams in the evening, but it’s been good. They’ve both been flexible with me.”

While training with the Revolution, he’s leaned on MLS veterans like Darrius Barnes and A.J. Soares to help become a better player, and has sought the advice and insight of Caldwell to keep him focused.

But he admits that when the training pitch is hot, and the ball is blurring by, the time for guidance and instruction is put on hold. Whether it’s a short-sided scrimmage, or an agility test, DeNormandie has learned that the only thing that matters in a professional environment is who’s the best.

“Every single drill is a competition and if you don’t win, players will be yelling at you,” DeNormandie said. “But that’s how you get better.”

And he’s reaped the rewards from those loud lessons regularly dished out at Revolution training.

“I’ve seen my play, just from the beginning of the season, get a lot better,” DeNormandie said. “My tackling’s come through, players getting on you – that’s how you get better. Hopefully, I can bring that (experience) to Boston College, and I can bring that to Real Boston as well, and just make players around me better, just like the Revs have been making me better.”

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About Brian O'Connell

Brian O'Connell serves as editor and staff writer at New England Soccer Today. He's also the Revolution beat writer for ESPNBoston.com, and is Officer at Large for the North American Soccer Reporters. He regularly contributes to The Associated Press, and has been featured on MLSSoccer.com & RevsNet.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianOConnell21 or contact him via e-mail at BOConnell21@aol.com