DAYTON — A 13-year-old football player recently completed a stint at an American Football Youth Olympic Development Program cross-regional camp in Virginia in mid-July and is waiting to hear if he will move on to the next stage.
Thornton Academy Middle School student Kyle Nicoletti seems pretty laid back about the whole thing, but playing football is important to him.
The next step would be to be chosen to go to Florida later this year as part of the 2009 ODP national team – teams are numbered by the year of birth of the players.
If selected, he will join players from the Virginia camp and other regional ODP showcases across the country in training and practice.
To be chosen as one of 35 players from Region 1 in Maine and other eastern states to attend the Virginia camp was pretty incredible, Kyle said. He and another Portland-area teenager were the Maine players selected for this event.
“Virgina was fun,” Kyle said. It was also hot, he said, 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the grass, 95 elsewhere, but when you do what you love, you work on it.
What does he like in football?
“Winning,” he said with a smile.
He is a member of Saco Soccer Club and Seacoast United.
Being picked for the Virginia camp drew praise on Saco Soccer Club’s social media pages.
“It’s amazing. Go get them,” one poster said.
“A way to represent Maine,” said another.
Kyle started playing at an early age, as many do, encouraged by his father, Jeff, who is one of three coaches at Saco Soccer Club, along with Craig Burgess and Joe Nelson.
“I’ve been playing since I was 4,” Kyle said.
His mother, Danielle Nicoletti, further explained that the family was at the local recreation department when Kyle was just a little guy, considering options, when football surfaced.
“(Her dad said) you can do this, or that, you want to try one,” Danielle recalled. “Let’s choose football, it looks fun.”
It was fun. And the opportunities provided by Maine Youth Soccer and the ODP program make it even more so.
Kyle plays a few positions and explained them to those with no knowledge of football: he is a winger, who covers the flanks of the pitch, and an attacking midfielder or midfielder – the latter being an attacking position. “My job is to send balls to the attackers and also to score; an attacking noon can give assists and score,” Kyle said.
His dad explained what would happen if Kyle was chosen for the next step:
“If selected to the inter-regional team, he will be part of the 2009 national team selection,” said Jeff Nicoletti. “Sixteen players from each of the four (soccer) regions of the United States travel to Florida for training where they select 21 players to be the official team representing the United States in international competition.”
As for the Virginia camp, Kyle has been invited to attend, and if it turns out Florida isn’t in the cards this fall, there’s another possibility to get invited and go. try in the years to come, he said.
There have been football players from Maine who have gained national recognition. In November 2021, a Deering High School student, Elsa Freeman, was chosen for an ODP program in Orlando, Florida, and a few months later for National Boot Camp in Tampa, according to a January 28 Portland article. Steve Craig’s Press Herald. .
Soccer Maine officials could not be reached by the newspaper’s deadline, but the organization’s ODP director Andy Halligan estimated that three or four players a year are identified for regional programs, according to the Press Herald article.
Kyle said his other interests include skiing, he enjoys spending time with friends and has played baseball in previous years.
His mother said that football was always in the foreground.
“He’s basically still playing soccer,” Danielle Nicoletti said.
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