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When Andrew Thomer ’20 was contacted by a recruiter to enroll in the Soccer Management Institute program (SMI) following the conclusion of his senior soccer season at Immaculata, he jumped at the opportunity. His participation in the one-year program allows him to earn a master’s degree in sports management and coaching from the world-renowned American University of Rome while playing soccer alongside a host of former top collegiate men’s and women’s soccer student-athletes from around the globe.

Thomer aspires to continue playing soccer professionally and eventually coaching at the collegiate or professional level. “At the minimum, I will likely gain some semi-professional experience before leaving Italy, which will give me a good start for wherever I continue my playing career after this program is over,” he explained.

However, there was another personal reason he wanted to participate. The Institute is located within the heart of Rome, which allows him to become fully immersed in his family’s Italian heritage. “A big part of my family is originally from Sicily, and my grandmother was the first person in my family born in the United States, so it has been very cool to see the differences between the genuine Italian culture and the Americanized Italian culture,” explained Thomer.

Spending much of his time in Rome, Thomer has enjoyed visiting a number of major landmarks including the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain.

After a month into the program, Thomer expressed pleasure with his decision to pursue the Soccer Management Program. Early on, he primarily trained with the groups at SMI. However, in the fall, he had the opportunity to gain some training experience with a division-7 club prior to government regulations, related to COVID-19, which led to the suspension of expanded off-campus training.

In addition to his time on the soccer field, Thomer also spoke highly of the classroom experience. “We have four classes per week in the program, and except for an Italian class, they are all soccer-specific, including a class on soccer tactics and coaching, sport science and sport law as it applies to international soccer,” said Thomer. He also respects the instructors, explaining that a current Italian National Team staffer teaches the sport science class while a former player turned coach runs the soccer tactics class.

While playing soccer for Immaculata, the Collegeville, Pennsylvania native permanently etched his name, along with his teammates, into Atlantic East Conference and Immaculata history with a championship game victory in his senior year over Cabrini by a final score of 4-3. Thomer’s role in this historic victory did not go unnoticed by the coaching staff. Coach Rich Punt acknowledged that his work ethic and high standards pushed his teammates to match him every day, which played a crucial role in the championship run.

“I chose Immaculata because I believed it was the best fit for me in terms of soccer and lifestyle,” began Thomer. “I had three soccer offers that I was considering. I never wanted to go to a big school with thousands and thousands of students. I liked how the classes were small and the teachers actually knew you,” stated Thomer.

Thomer’s coaches and teammates are especially proud of him, as he is the first Mighty Mac to join the Soccer Management Institute program. “Buona fortuna” (good luck) to Mr. Thomer!