July 28, 2022

Despite Different Backgrounds & Coaching Styles, Two Bobcat Head Coaches Created Champion Soccer Teams

By B&SC Athletics Team

Despite Different Backgrounds & Coaching Styles, Two Bobcat Head Coaches Created Champion Soccer Teams

For Bobcats Men’s Soccer Head Coach and Athletic Director Nick Dimitrievski, the sport has been a lifelong passion. Born in Macedonia and raised in Syracuse, Dimitrievski worked briefly as a counselor for mental illness and addictions after college until he could no longer ignore his itch to return to the field.

Taking a leap of faith, Dimitrievski took a coaching position at Le Moyne College and then Jefferson Community College before landing at Bryant & Stratton College (B&SC) Syracuse in 1998. Throughout the past 24 years, many talented players have cycled through his Bobcats program, but only one would embody the roles of player, student, mentee – and later – Bobcats colleague and friend.

Alex Grigorita came to the U.S. from his home in the small country of Moldova 12 years ago with the intention of finding his own way in American sports. In Moldova, Grigorita was one of the best youth soccer players, and he found a home at B&SC Syracuse as a Bobcat. Impressed with the program and inspired by Coach Dimitrievski, Grigorita became a Bobcats Assistant Coach in 2012 before taking over the women’s soccer program as Head Coach.

Fast forward to 2021, both coaches have been named USCAA Division I Coach of the Year for their programs and led their teams to championship titles in the men’s and women’s soccer divisions. Formerly a part of the NJCAA, the program shifted to the USCAA in recent years to allow for players to compete at the baccalaureate level. Since making the switch, the Bobcats men’s team has won two back-to-back championships, with the women’s team earning their first last year. About the titles, Dimitrievski said, “It just validates that our methods are successful, and we have reached the pinnacle of the industry. it’s very gratifying for us.”

Despite sharing success, the coaches have developed different approaches to how they lead their teams over the years. Grigorita, for example, promotes values of comradery, sportsmanship, and fun.

“It’s a lot of work on and off the field,” said Grigorita. “The most important thing for me is to ensure that my players are committed and focused and keep each other motivated. Most importantly, I want them to enjoy the game.”

Dimitrievski, on the other hand, credits his success to his extensive experience as a coach and athlete in his own right. In addition to instilling leadership principles that he has learned from elite coaches across the sports industry in his players, he also takes a non-traditional approach to developing plays.

He said, “The key to our success is a modern possession style game with trick plays that the players love to be a part of. We play a funky 4-4-2 diamond system that hasn’t been played since the 1970s and put a modern twist on it.” This style, which assigns dynamic roles to his players on the field, ensures that the team maintains a numerical advantage throughout the game.

While their coaching styles differ, there is one thing that both Dimitrievski and Grigorita agree on – academics are a priority for their athletes. Notably, Bryant & Stratton College invests in their athletes’ success on and off the field. Like all students, athletes benefit from small class sizes, individualized attention, mentors, and career driven curriculums. It’s because of these differentiators that the Bobcats teams have some of the top GPA’s out of schools in their division. Grigorita said, “We believe the biggest success you can have as a coach is seeing anxious young people walk through the doors when they first join our program transform into confident young leaders on their graduation day.”

In addition to academic support, the College ensures that all their athletic programs have the tools they need to provide players with the greatest possible experience. The athletic department – which the coaches affectionately refer to as a “family” – is willing to do whatever it takes to create successful teams, and coaches are encouraged to continuously develop their programs.

This holistic commitment to the success of student athletes is what Grigorita and Dimitrievski believe make the College an ideal choice for passionate players who have diverse career aspirations. “The College is really a perfect mix of high-level athletics and quality education for whatever you choose to pursue in life,” said Grigorita, a 2016 graduate of the College’s Business Management program.

When asked about what’s next for their programs, Dimitrievski said their focus remains helping their athletes become the best versions of themselves – not necessarily collecting the most wins.

“I still stay in contact with the athletes I coached at the College a long time ago,” he said. “Most of them have become successful and caring individuals, and they always tell me that their time at the College helped them grow and mature into responsible adults. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.”

To learn more about Bryant & Stratton College Syracuse Bobcats programs, visit the athletics page.