Brashinger: Lincoln-Way soccer players excel beyond field
By Ginger Brashinger Citizen Journalistemail@example.com November 29, 2012 1:06PM
Kyle Richmond (left) and Josh Lavin are pictured during the CASL College Soccer Showcase in Raleigh, N.C. | Supplied Photo
Updated: January 3, 2013 6:08AM
Lincoln-Way East High School seniors Kyle Richmond and Josh Lavin recently returned from a Capital Area Soccer League College Showcase in Raleigh, N.C.
The 18-year-old soccer players were the Lincoln-Way area representatives on the United Soccer Academy U-18 team, a group of young men from the Chicago area.
It was a gratifying weekend for Richmond and Lavin, and their teammates, coaches and families. The team’s weekend success in the invitation-only event resulted in a move up the state rankings from 13th to ninth.
“It’s a big one,” said Brian Lavin, Josh’s father. “There’s no doubt about it. It’s an opportunity for the kids to demonstrate sportsmanship and how they perform.”
Richmond and Lavin have played soccer most of their lives. Richmond began at 3, Lavin at 5. They have been friends much of that time, in part because of their passion for the sport.
However, that’s not all they have in common. Both young men are focused on their futures while making the most of the present. They easily can be considered positive role models among their peers.
Richmond and Lavin are high honor students at Lincoln-Way East. Their grade-point averages hover near 4.0, all the more impressive because several of their classes are Advanced Placement. That often means a great deal of homework and study time.
“These guys are good kids,” said Kyle’s father, Jim Richmond. “When these two say they are getting together to study, they’re studying.”
Both are National Honor Society members and also belong to math and history honor societies. Each group requires its members to be involved in school activities, taking a bite out of Richmond and Lavin’s busy schedules.
Soccer practice is three times a week, year-round, and there is at least one game each weekend.
Richmond and Lavin said despite that schedule, keeping up with schoolwork is something their coaches, Chris Karabatsis and Tony Hepburn, stress.
“They’re very strict on the rule,” Richmond said. “School’s first.”
Meeting challenges is something both boys say they learned from soccer.
“I’ve definitely learned discipline and respect for my teammates, my coaches, referees — respect for authority figures,” Lavin said.
Added Richmond, “(Soccer) makes you realize you can take on bigger things if you try.”
Despite busy schedules, these guys do more. Richmond and Lavin are Little Kickers volunteers, training soccer players ages 4 to 14. They said they’re giving back because of the excellent coaching they received, from coaches who have become their role models.
Lavin also has been a youth catechist at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Frankfort, teaching seventh- and fifth-grade classes the last two years. He also participates in adaptive gym classes, where he helps special-needs students with sports such as gymnastics and swimming.
“I saw a doctor helping a special-needs patient with physical therapy when I hurt my knee,” Lavin said. “It was the coolest thing in the world.”
That experience also led Lavin to pursue a degree in physical therapy. He has been accepted at four universities and is waiting to hear from others.
Richmond said he will pursue a pre-med degree and is waiting to see what scholarships might be available at several universities.
Until then, these hard-working student-athletes will continue living with their families — Richmond with his parents, Jim and Nancy, and his sister, Brooke, 15, in Mokena, and Lavin with his parents, Brian and Kim, and his siblings, Jon, 19, Justin, 13, and Jordan, 12, in Frankfort — until after graduation.
They agreed soccer will be part of their futures, no matter what the level.
“I will play in college,” Lavin said. “They play soccer wherever you go; it’s a very uniting thing.
“I think it’s the most ‘team’ game out there.”