Gladwin soccer player chosen for international tournament - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Gladwin soccer player chosen for international tournament

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GLADWIN COUNTY (WJRT) - (06/20/14) - Up next in World Cup soccer action, team USA takes on Portugal on Sunday.

But as the world watches the biggest international soccer tournament of the year, a Mid-Michigan soccer player is preparing for his own overseas adventure.

"I've never seen anyone more passionate about playing this sport," said Jacob Small, a Gladwin High School soccer player.

"He knows how to adapt to different people's playing styles. Every year he just gets progressively better and better," said Andrew Anderson who also plays for the varsity team at Gladwin.

Anderson and Small are talking about their teammate and friend, Gabe Teffner.

"I like the activity of it, I like being able to be on the ball and always moving," Gabe said.

Gabe's passion and skill have earned him an opportunity of a lifetime.

"He had never applied though to go, I guess that's where the shock factor came in. I didn't know how he had gotten invited," said Rhonda Teffner, Gabe's mother.

Turns out Gabe was noticed by the American International Sports Teams, or AIST, at a soccer camp downstate.

He's one of only 16 players who made the United State's U-19 team that will play in the San Marino Cup.

"Such a dream come true for me, that until I get there and walk out on that first field I'm still not going to be able to take it all in," Gabe said.

He leaves for Italy, July 2. "We play games against local clubs in Milan, Florence, Como, Venice, and then we'll end in San Marino," Gabe said.

And while Gabe would be thrilled to play in an international tournament anywhere, Italy is extra special. His connection with the country started at a soccer camp, more than a decade ago.

"And they put together like mock World Cup teams, and I got put on the Italy team," Teffner said.

"He has an Italian flag up in his bedroom that covers the whole wall that he made when he was eight, now he's 16 so that flags been hanging there for eight years," Rhonda said.

The Teffners also have a family friend that once played for one of the premiere Italian teams, back in the day.

Since Gabe's dream of playing in Italy will soon be realized, it may be time to pick a new goal.

AIST players are being groomed for something bigger.

"That's why they're getting all of the best players from around the U.S. together so the Olympic coaches can see who has it, and who doesn't, if you will," Gabe said.

Making the trip to Italy is costly. Teffner's family, friends and Gladwin County businesses have pulled together to raise money and the 16-year-old has participated in several fundraisers.

But - he's still a little short. If you'd like to help, check out his GoFundMe website by clicking HERE.
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