Andy McDermott has seen a lot in his career as a professional athlete, a police
officer, and an actor. And through it all, this homeschooling dad has come to realize
the one thing that matters most. Find out what it is on today’s Homeschool
Mike Smith: My guest today is Andy McDermott. He’s a former
soccer player and a police officer who now works as an actor in Los Angeles. He and
his wife are homeschooling their four kids. Andy, welcome to the program!
Andy McDermott: Thank you sir! It’s an honor.
Mike: Well, I appreciate you being with us today.
Created for relationships [0:35]
Mike: Andy, you grew up wanting to be a soldier. So how did you
go from there to being a professional soccer player, then a police officer, and now
and actor and a bodybuilder?
Andy: Well I can tell you that it wasn’t planned like that.
Very little of my life has been planned. But you know, soccer just kind of kept
going. Soccer was a huge blessing in my life. It got me through college, it got me an
education. And then the opportunity to play professionally came up, and I just chased
And then when my wife Julie and I, we started our family, it was time to get a
real job. And so at about 27, [I] retired from soccer and the most fun and
rewarding real job I could think of was being a cop. I’m not the kind of guy
who can sit still very long and I always have to be helping people and trying to make
So I was a cop in Phoenix for about eight years, and after that—very long
story short—they came and filmed a movie called “Everything Must
Go” in Scottsdale. And I ended up in this movie with Will Farrell and Michael
Peña and just got some very strong encouragement from that. And it awakened
the childhood dream of being an actor. And we moved to L.A. about four years ago.
Mike: So you got the acting bug. Before we talk about that,
though: You’ve got a varied experience in your background—are there any
lessons there that you’d like to share with us that you learned during that
Andy: Yes sir, I think there are two main lessons. One is
relationships. I really learned to believe we were created for relationships. I mean,
throughout all my life adventures I’m grateful to have rubbed shoulders with
some absolutely amazing people and learn that we all need help sometimes, and that we
have to help each other.
And then I think the second lesson is just timing. Very simply, I’ve learned
that if you wait for the perfect time to do anything, you will never do that thing.
Because there never really is a perfect time. But if you jump at something and give
it everything you have, then you kind of create that perfect time yourself.
Mike: So when you say relationships, Andy, what do you mean by
Andy: I mean good relationships. I feel like a lot of humans, and
especially successful ones, go through life with their heads down and just try to
achieve, achieve, achieve. But I think you just miss so much of the joy in life, and
you miss so much of helping each other, and laughter and love. So I think from my
background, I’ve just learned how much better life can be when you are
interacting with people and helping each other, and then every once in a while you
need some help, and there’s somebody there who’s willing to help you
because you have helped others.
Mike: You know that’s an interesting insight, because I
like to ask successful people that I meet and get to know a little bit,
“What’s most important to you: relationships or being right?” How
would you answer that?
Andy: I would say, If I can’t take the easy out and say
both, I would say relationships. I really would. I’ve learned that I’m
not trying to anymore be the greatest single human on earth, as I was when I was
younger. Now I’m just trying to be the best that I can be, be the best husband
that I can be. And if I can achieve some success before it’s my time to go,
then so be it. But in the meantime, it’s the relationships, it’s the
day-to-day interaction with people around me.
Mike: I couldn’t agree with you more, and I think actually
success builds on relationships.
The craziest show on earth [3:37]
Mike: Andy, what are some of the most memorable experiences
you’ve had throughout your career as a professional soccer and a police officer
as well as an actor?
Andy: Well I’d take that in each part. I would say as a
soccer player, for me it was the travel. I’m grateful that it took me all over
the world. I got to live in Germany for a while and got to play soccer in all
different countries and really learned what an international language soccer (or
And then as a police officer, I just remembered the laughter. Of course we had to
see some of the most terrible and some of the roughest things you could imagine, but
there was also some of the highest, funniest times interacting with people. I call it
“a front row seat to the craziest show on earth,” because you just never
knew what you were going to see.
But then as an actor, even though I’m grateful to have worked on some big
sets with some “big stars,” this past weekend, actually, I got to film a
short film that was created by me and the director. So it came out of my head and
[it’s] just really exciting to see. We had probably 50 people on set over the
weekend here in Phoenix. And it’s just so exciting to see something that
started as a dream come into reality, and I think that we really killed it this
weekend. So that was really exciting for me.
Mike: Well Andy, let me ask you this: How has working in these
different fields influenced or changed your perspective or perception of people
Andy: You know, I think it has just enhanced it. I was blessed to
grow up in a good family with good parents, so I had no prejudices as a kid. And then
I think that that just was enhanced by—as a soccer player, as a cop, and now as
an actor—just being amongst so many different cultures and so many different
diverse people groups. You know, my love for languages and speaking different
languages and just interacting with people on their level and relating with people,
it just has enhanced that. I’ve just gone through life with an open mind, and I
think that has just helped me to enjoy life even more and then also just to make
better connections with people from all different walks of life.
Schooling on the go [5:31]
Mike: Andy, why did you and your wife initial decide to
homeschool your children?
Andy: Well, very simple reason, and that was time, and being able
to see my son. We now have two boys and two girls, but our oldest—when it was
time for him to start school, I was working as a police officer. And I was working
2pm-to-midnight shifts, and so if he was going to a regular school, I would have
missed him in the morning and then missed him at night. So we initially started just
so that I would be able to see him before I went off to work. You know, we said we
would try it for a year, and that was, man, six [or] seven years ago. And now we have
all four that we’re homeschooling, and it’s just been fantastic for that
reason and others as well.
Mike: Andy, how old are your children?
Andy: The boys are 11 and 9, and the girls are 6 and 4.
Mike: So would you say now as an actor you have more or less time
to spend or help out as a homeschooling dad?
Andy: Oh, so much more. I have a very busy schedule sometimes
with auditions and meetings and stuff, but if they were off at school, I don’t
feel like I would be able to spend very much time with them. So now, when I’m
home during the day, then I can help out with the schooling.
And more than that, we really just enjoy traveling and things. So when I’m
off on set, or off on photoshoots or whatever, then these guys always come with me.
And I think that’s the best thing about homeschool: we can bring school with
Mike: And I bet they like that, don’t they?
Andy: Oh, they love it. They love it. Because you know how living
in Los Angeles, it can feel like a concrete jungle sometimes. So getting out to
experience some fresh air and the real world a little bit is always fun.
Learning beyond the books [7:04]
Mike: Well that’s great, Andy. What are some of your
favorite moments from homeschooling your children?
Andy: Well Mike, I think the biggest thing that pops into my head
is travel with them. That’s my favorite thing about homeschooling: we can bring
school with us. And this past summer, we actually took a big road
trip—Hollywood kind of slows down in July—and so we actually took three
full weeks and we drove from L.A. out to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and spent a week
out there, and then drove back in a different direction.
So I think for me, that’s the coolest thing about homeschooling: they
don’t have to just read about something in a book, you know. For example, we
stopped in Washington, D.C. for a day and got to walk around and actually see things
and touch things, and go to the museums. And you know, stopping in hotels along the
way, and even doing some school in our family truckster minivan. You know, it’s
just so cool to actually see the world and see education through their young eyes. I
feel like I am learning about this stuff at the same time they are. For me, those are
the most memorable times.
Mike: I’m going to ask you about your wife. She’s the
homeschooling mom, she’s doing most of the work—let’s face it,
Mike: Alright, if there was one thing that she could ask you to
do to help her—the most important thing—what would that be?
Andy: I think encouraging the kids. You know, I definitely give
her a break every day so she can do her own stuff. She needs her “me
time” just as much as anybody else does. But I think it’s just
encouraging the kids and tell them how important it is that they keep their focus and
keep their energy. You know, I’m just kind of a motivator guy, so just telling
them, “Hey, good job!” or “That sounded great!” or
“You’re doing really well!” I think kids need that, but I think
moms need that too. So I think that’s probably the best way I can help her is
keep encouraging everybody.
Mike: You know, Andy, that’s one of the best things you can
do based upon some surveying my wife did many years ago when we were
homeschooling—[it] is that moms need encouragement and they need some free
time. And you hit them both!
Andy: That’s good to hear!
It’s all worth it [9:06]
Mike: Andy, what are the most challenging aspects of
homeschooling, for your family?
Andy: Well, I would say there are a lot of challenges to living
in L.A. Homeschooling is a little bit quieter there than it was in the Phoenix area,
where we first started homeschooling. And so I think it’s just navigating those
conversations with people of the stereotypes of homeschooling and just explaining why
we do it.
And then I think, you know, the best seller for homeschooling is when people
interact with our kids. And not that they’re superheroes or anything, but
they’re good kids, and they interact really well with people, and I attribute
that to a lot of homeschooling time. And so I think that’s the challenge: just
navigating those conversations and finding other homeschoolers in the L.A. area.
Mike: Well Andy, you are a veteran now of
homeschooling—you’ve homeschooled for eight years. And so I’m going
to put you on the spot and ask you to give some advice to folks who are listening out
there—many of them are just getting started and some of them are just
contemplating homeschooling. So if you could give some good advice to those folks,
what would it be?
Andy: Oh, yes sir. I am a hundred percent advocate of
homeschooling, and I would just encourage other parents by reminding them that this
is a long-term investment. There’s going to be bumps in the road, and
you’re going to have a tough day here or there, and you might not feel
appreciated by your kids or your spouse, or whoever. But I promise you that this will
pay off. All the energy and all the time you’re putting into
this—it’s a long-term investment in these little humans, and they will be
so much better off spending their time with you, learning from you—and you will
too. So just remember this is a long-term investment, and you’ll get past
today, I promise.
Mike: Well can I say amen to that?
Andy: Yes sir, amen to that!
Mike: Well amen, brother. It’s been so great getting to
know you and the tremendous encouragement that you’ve given our folks out there
in radio land. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.