SPOTSWOOD – Andy Cammarano made a lot of memories during his 14 years manning the sideline as the head coach of the Spotswood High School football team.
One that comes first to his mind is having the opportunity to have both his father, Nick Sr., and brother, Nick Jr., as part of his coaching staff.
Another was seeing his squad win the program’s first division title in 14 years in 2014 by claiming the Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division championship.
His most recent yet most special memory came after Spotswood played its final game of the 2020 season at home against Roselle High School on Nov. 21.
Cammarano walked off the field at Charger Stadium with his four-year-old son by his side. For Cammarano, it reminded him of walking off the football field as a child when his father was coaching.
That moment for now will be Cammarano’s last as head coach of the Chargers as he announced earlier this month that he was stepping down and will take time away from the game to be with his family.
When he announced his decision to the team, Cammarano told his players that he couldn’t give them the 100% commitment and effort he had given the program the last 14 years and that it was time for someone else to give the team that type of dedication.
“My dad told me that if you can’t do it the right way and give it everything you have, that it’s best to walk away,” Cammarano said about stepping down.“I loved being the football coach at Spotswood. It’s a great district to be a part of. The kids are great. I was fortunate to coach some talented teams during my time and make this program a great place for someone to take over.”
Cammarano is a Shore Regional High School (West Long Branch) graduate and was an assistant coach for his alma mater from 1997-2006 before coming to Spotswood for the opportunity to become a head coach.
His father was the head coach of Shore Regional from 1978-81, helping the Blue Devils win the Central Jersey Group 1 title with a perfect 11-0 record during his final season at the helm.
The opportunity to be a head coach in the GMC was a “real eye-opening” experience for Cammarano, who was happy to get the chance to coach in a well-played conference and go up against some historic high school football programs in Central Jersey.
Cammarano built the Spotswood football program on family values and the word “commitment,” which is the lone word on the T-shirts the players on the team earn after summer workouts.
He related the values of football to real life and drove that into his players. Having a good work ethic, being a good teammate and never giving up were some of the qualities that Cammarano and his coaching staff preached to the players every day and how it can help them in life when their time on the field is over.
“Doing things the right way by sticking together and seeing things through – we instilled that in our kids,” Cammarano said. “We had great support from the parents. They knew that we were trying to do things the right way.”
To Cammarano, it didn’t matter if you were an athlete or a person who just liked to work out in the weight room. He roamed the hallways of Spotswood High School and tried to get as many students as he could to come out for the team.
“I received anybody that wanted to play,” he said.
Spotswood broke through in Cammarano’s third year at the helm in 2009 by making the state playoffs. The following year in 2010, the team roared to a 7-3 record.
Those two successful seasons segued to the program getting more and more players to come out each season.
From 31 players on the varsity roster in his first year as head coach, Cammarano had 64 kids on the team during the 2015 season and consistently has more than 50 athletes come out to play each fall.
Spotswood claimed a 7-3 record in 2013 and made the state playoffs. It led to three straight years, from 2014-16, where the Chargers took home the division title.
The first one in 2014 was special to Cammarano, who said many people didn’t give his team “a shot” at winning the division and his squad proved those critics wrong by going a perfect 5-0 in the GMC Blue Division.
In 2015, a game-winning field goal by Ryan Szatkowski helped Spotswood defeat Metuchen High School 27-24 to win its second consecutive division title. The Chargers finished with a 7-3 record that season.
Spotswood would go on to win its third straight division crown in 2016 and record its final winning season under Cammarano with a 6-4 mark.
“We had a great run there in the middle,” Cammarano said. “Once our numbers were up, we got a good crop of players and had good depth across the board. We got to play in the playoffs and experience a lot of big games. It was awesome.”
What Cammarano wanted his players to take most from their football experience was a sense of pride and self respect for each other. He said that was more important to him than the wins and losses the team had.
Cammarano was a teacher first, and did what he could to help his players in any way he could.
“My number one job as a teacher is to help kids and teach them to do things the right way,” Cammarano said.
Spotswood went 2-5 this past fall. Through all the obstacles his team faced throughout the season due to the coronavirus pandemic, Cammarano was proud of the effort his players showed all season.
Stepping away from the team will not mean Cammarano’s time in Spotswood is over. He will still remain an English teacher in the high school and the Spotswood School District Department Chair for English and Language Arts for grades 6-12.
Most importantly, Cammarano said he told his players when he was stepping down that those still in the high school can always come to him as a resource in any way.
“I told them to keep at it and that they could still come see me for anything,” Cammarano said. “I love making relationships with kids as a coach and beyond.”
Walking off the field that last time in November with his son will be something Cammarano will never forget.
His time in Spotswood was about building a strong foundation through family values and he succeeded in that with how he had built up the football program. Now it’s time for him to enjoy the summer and fall months as a family man.
“I want to do dad stuff,” Cammarano said. “I want to play with Hot Wheels with my son. I want to walk around with a 10-month-old. I’m going to take some time away to enjoy myself with my family.”