Eagles coach Cardaman happy to share his passion of soccer

Aug. 30—If there’s one thing that Buddy Cardaman struggles with, it would probably be setting a tone when having a team meeting.

“They’ll be goofing around, and I’ll yell ‘stop goofing around,'” the Geneva boys soccer coach said.

Before he can say another word, though, Cardaman laughs right along with them.

“I’m still young and immature myself,” he said.

Cardaman took the helm of the Eagles program a year ago. A 2015 Geneva graduate, he walked the same halls to class that his players do and even had many of the same teachers.

He may consider himself “young and immature,” but when it comes to teaching the game of soccer, he’s all business.

“I always knew I wanted to coach,” Cardaman said. “All the great coaches I had growing up, I knew I wanted to follow in their footsteps and be a good example … a good leader for other young men growing up.”

As a high school player, Cardaman said he was the kind of player that, if he didn’t have to drag himself off the field completely drained, he did not have his best game.

After high school, Cardaman went on to play at Lakeland Community College.

Jeff Hull, his high school coach, looked to step away from his head coaching duties to spend more time in the stands cheering for his son, Owen, now a sophomore at Madison.

Cardaman had already been on board as an unpaid assistant, and when the decision was made to hand him full reins, there was no hesitation on the part of Hull.

“When I came into the job, I had one year of experience coaching a middle school co-ed team. I was over my head,” Hull said. “But, I was lucky enough to have a great group of upperclassmen.

“Buddy was a junior my first year, and even then he was a leader and a coach on the field. He was very passionate about the game of soccer and very knowledgeable.”

Cardaman grew

up learning soccer on the youth fields of Geneva.

In middle school and high school, he played for coaches like current Madison coach Julio Gutierrez, Hull and Joel Dixon.

At Lakeland, Cardaman played for Djuro Peric who retired in 2019 and has since been inducted into the school’s hall of fame, and with Augustin Ramirez, who runs the Big Goalkeeper camp, one of the most prestigious camps in the country.

Now, Cardaman wants to take all that he learned and pass it on to a new generation of players.

His young team is off to an 0-4 start, but that is far from discouraging for the coach.

“This year has been great,” Cardaman said. “It’s different working with younger less experienced players, but it’s nice getting to show them all the good parts, fun parts, exciting parts, all of the interesting parts of the game a lot of people don’t know about.

“They’re all bright eyed and bushy tailed. They’re like ‘wow, coach, that is so cool, I didn’t know that.'”

Parts of the game are reading opponents, establishing physicality, and communicating on the field. Parts of the game include being better if the players already understood. But at the same time, he gets a thrill out of sharing with them.

“I tell them it is, and I wish they’d know that coming in, but it’s cool that I get to be the one showing them,” Cardaman said.

Seniors Adler Swartz, on defense, and Gabe Dewey, forward; juniors Kyle Hejduk, keeper, and Kyle Opron, defender, and sophomore Paxton Galliazzo, midfield/forward, are among Geneva’s players to watch this season.

A Spanish teacher at Grand Valley, what Cardaman loves is teaching the game and sharing his passion for it. What he enjoys most it seems, though, is simply giving back.

“It goes back to just who he is as a person,” Hull said. “His passion has always been to give back to the community. One of the best ways

to give to a community is do it through a vehicle you love and he loves the game of soccer. His passion is unmatched.

“He glows on a soccer field. He’s passionate, he’s intense. A lot of times his passion comes out as intensity, and when you get to know him, you realize that’s love. Love of the game, love of being able to share that game with people who he wants to share it with.”

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