The distance between Jack Gurr’s hometown of Newcastle, England and his new home of Atlanta is 4,074 miles (6,557 kms for our British fans), but Gurr has found that distance doesn’t always mean difference.
“In Newcastle, you’re born and you either play or you watch. There’s no other sports. It’s so magnified, it’s what we do,” Gurr thoughtfully responded. “But Atlanta is literally the closest thing I’ve seen to that. The fans at the game love soccer. It’s tough to compare them, but the energy and the passion and what they feel for the club is definitely similar.”
After moving to Atlanta in 2014 to continue his soccer career at Georgia Gwinnett College, Gurr was excited at the prospect of a team coming to Atlanta.
“When the team came about while I was still in college, I kind of had an eye on it,” Gurr reminisced. “Thinking that would be the dream to come over and play here after I finished college.”
Signing with Atlanta was a dream come true for Gurr. Although he found similarities in the passion of the fans, his transition to American soccer wasn’t quite as easy as you would think.
“My first year in college, the culture was so different. I never picked up yellow cards back home,” Gurr said with a laugh. “Then, I picked up yellow cards in the first seven games in America.”
Gurr quickly realized he needed to turn down his intensity, not just during games but practices as well.
“Back home if you’re making mistakes, you’re letting the team down and people will shout at you,” Gurr stated. “When I did that when I first came here in college, people would just curl up in a ball. They don’t want to hear that and don’t want to play for you.”
His passion hasn’t lessened though, especially as he coaches the next generation of athletes at Club USA in Norcross, GA. Gurr uses insights he gained from his college career to give the kids he coaches an advantage.
Gurr quickly noticed how much bigger his American teammates were than he was, but that they weren’t as advanced tactically as him. The focus on building athletes instead of building technical skills is something Gurr has tried to compensate for when coaching.
“In America, they build the athletes first then they try to work on the tactical and technical to offset someone’s game,” Gurr discovered. “But that’s got to be drilled in you when you’re young, when you’re ready to take in information.”
As he seeks to close that knowledge gap, he is also in awe of the support his kids receive from their families.
“I see people now in England working factory jobs but who I thought were so talented and could have gone professional but just didn’t have the support,” Gurr noted. “In America, that’s another difference. I feel like every kid that comes to my training, the family’s are there and willing to invest.”
As he’s learned to embrace the city he now calls home, Gurr hasn’t taken for granted his place in the city and on the team.
“If you had told me what would happen and where I stand now when I first came, I would have snapped your hand off,” Gurr claimed. “The opportunity to play for Atlanta is just a dream come true.”
A little over 4,000 miles from his birthplace, Jack Gurr has found a new home and a new dream in the city of Atlanta.