Chaminade coach, three senior players set for high school boys all-star soccer game
By: Warren Mayes
Chaminade coach Mike Gauvain will put his West all-star team through its first workout Friday (Dec. 7) in Birmingham, Ala.
Gauvain will have three local players on his West team in the second annual High School Soccer All-American Game. Two his Red Devils – Jason Pesek and Curt Shillingsford — are on the squad along with CBC’s Xhovani Dokaj.
The game boasts 40 of the top seniors from around the country.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Gauvain, talking from Birmingham. “I will get to work with a lot of great players from across the country. I am humbled to be asked to coach the team. (CBC) Coach (Terry) Michler did it last year. I think it will be a fun weekend. I think the high school game will be awesome. It will be great as soccer fan to watch them play. I know Jason and Curt are looking forward to it.”
The event is conducted by Quincy High School coach Eric Stratman. He is no stranger to running big events like this. Stratman also runs the Gateway City Soccer Classic in St. Louis along with the Adidas Tournament of Champions in Burlington, Iowa, and the Heart of America Classic in Kansas City, Mo.
“Eric puts it on and he does a great job,” Gauvain said. “He’s come to St. Louis twice now for coaches in the game. Maybe he wants to reward me for coaching 25 years in high school soccer. It will be fantastic.”
Michler, who led CBC to the state championship this season with a win over Chaminade, coached the West team last year.
“It was a great experience,” Michler said. “It was very well organized and everyone appreciated all that was done for them.
“This is huge – great exposure and tremendous competition for the kids. It is sandwiched between the college semifinal and final so there will be a lot of college coaches around.”
Gauvain will have 18 players and two goalkeepers on his team. With everyone a talented player, Gauvain knows he will have to get everyone involved.
“Everybody will get to play,” Gauvain said. “It won’t be the most happy bunch because we’ll be running guys in and out. We will want to show their talent. This is a great recruiting tool for the kids who have not made a college choice yet. There will be coaches from all levels from all over the country watching the game.”
“Curtis and Jason were first-team all-conference players this year and they were our team captains,” Gauvain said. “They got us on the right track. When they made their decision to come back to play for the high school team and the academy, that set the tone. Our goal was to play well all year and get to the Final Four. We got to the final game. Only two teams got that far and Terry’s guys played well and got us.”
Pesek will be going to play at Brown while Shillingsford will attend DePaul.
Michler said he is pleased Dokaj will get to play in the game.
“He is very deserving of this honor,” Michler said. “He is very mature as a player. He sees the game and can play at a very high level. He raises the level of the entire team. He has the ability to control the game from wherever he plays. He has good size, plays under control, and can drive the ball accurately over distance.
“He is a great leader because his example is so good and strong. He tackles well — anticipates and positions himself very well, and has great skill. His poise may be his best quality.”
Dojak is the answer to a good trivia question. He was a member of the 2009 Class 1 state champion at Whitfield. He transferred to CBC and the Cadets won the Class 3 state crown last month.
This year, players had to choose between playing for their high school team or U.S. Development Academy squads. Many of the top players chose the academy teams.
Those that did not benefited.
“High school soccer is still in great shape,” Gauvain said. “Kids want to play for their high school. We’ll see the best in this game. It’s going to be a fun weekend for everyone.”