Have Soccer Ball, Will Travel: Hanover Athletes Look Elsewhere to Further Athletic Endeavors
Hanover High juniors, from left Jonas Taenzer, and Ethan Kable on the soccer field on Sept. 12, 2013 at Hanover High School, Hanover N.H.. Taenzer and Kable are both missing the Hanover High boys soccer season to pursue other playing opportunities in their favorite sport. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover High School junior Ethan Kable stands on the soccer field on Sept. 12, 2013 at Hanover High School, Hanover N.H.. Kable didn't return to the Marauders boys soccer team this year in order to pursue an exchange program in Carpi, Italy, where he will study and play soccer for an area club team. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover High junior Jonas Taenzer stands on the soccer field on Sept. 12, 2013 at Hanover High School, Hanover N.H. Taenzer, who has trained two of the past three summers with the youth academy of a prominent German club, is playing full-time for the Epping, N.H.-base Seacoast United academy program this fall, which prevents him from suiting up for Hanover High. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover — When Ethan Kable gets to where he’s going, he’ll have the best seat outside the house.
A Hanover High School junior who played midfield on the Marauders’ boys soccer team last fall, Kable will soon be trying out for the U17 youth academy team at Carpi FC, a club in north-central Italy that, at the professional level, competes in the country’s second-tier Serie B. It’s an opportunity borne from last year, when the Norwich resident did a summer soccer tour through the same region.
This year, he’ll study there. He’ll play there. And when it’s time to rest, he’ll do so in an apartment that overlooks Carpi FC’s home ground.
“It’s nothing compared to Gillette Stadium,” Kable said last week, “but it’s close enough to watch from the balcony.”
Both Kable and Jonas Taenzer could be playing soccer in Marauder colors this fall, but they aren’t — because of soccer.
Both hope to compete beyond high school, and both are taking different routes to their intended destination. While Kable has cobbled together an exchange, Taenzer has cast his fortunes with the Epping, N.H.-based Seacoast United academy program, one of about 100 clubs around the country that have joined U.S. Soccer’s full-year developmental system.
Taenzer played a role in Hanover’s run to the NHIAA Division I finals last November — as did Kable — before joining Seacoast. But when the club made U.S. Soccer’s 10-month training calendar mandatory this year for academy players, Taenzer’s Marauder days came to a close.
“It’s a decision that I made with my parents and coach because they said that if I wanted to develop as a player and make the most of my potential, academy would be the right thing to do,” Taenzer said last week. “It’s something I wanted, and it was an easy decision for me.”
Europe gets an assist in aiding both teenagers’ aspirations.
Although born in Portland, Maine, and an Upper Valley resident since he was 10, Taenzer possesses dual German-U.S. citizenship because both of his parents are German. It comes in handy: With an uncle’s help, Taenzer spent two of the last three summers training with the youth academy at Werder Bremen, one of the top clubs in the German Bundesliga.
Coaches were impressed enough with Taenzer that they offered him a playing spot this fall. Given his lifelong affinity for the club, Taenzer was tempted.
“I had a really good time there,” the 6-foot midfielder said. “They offered me to stay for a year and play there, but for a variety of reasons, including school and living away, I decided not to. But I’ve been invited next summer, and I’ll re-evaluate the situation then.”
The Seacoast commitment requires a commute of 1 hour, 45 minutes each way three times a week — by far the longest drive of any of Taenzer’s teammates — to workouts at the club’s Epping complex. The team travels all over the country: Long Island last weekend; western New York this weekend; Florida for showcases. Major League Soccer clubs field three of the rivals in Seacoast’s USDA Northeast Division league.
“We start our 10-month season in August with the preseason,” Taenzer said. “We have a break after a Florida showcase until just after Christmas. Then there’s winter training, and games start up again in early March and go until the end of June, when we have a two-month break.
“It’s not too dissimilar from playing high school in the fall, some of the indoor training (in winter) and Lightning (Soccer Club) in the spring. But the intensity and the commitment they offer you year-round is different from high school and Lightning.”
Kable accepted the notion of soccer beyond a Hanover High campaign thanks to a trip to Italy last summer led by Keene State College associate head men’s soccer Rick Scott. Kable’s group played matches and saw the sights.
“I had an amazing time there,” Kable said. “It opened my eyes to the idea of, ‘What if I could play there or study there for a year?’ ”
After returning, Scott notified Kable that some of the Italian clubs against which he competed were interested in having him return. Cognizant of potential hazards that might affect his NCAA eligibility down the road, Kable located an organization capable of crafting an exchange-style program, where he would live with a host family, go to a public high school and trial for a roster spot with three Carpi-area clubs.
It wasn’t the easiest choice foregoing a third season on the Hanover varsity. Marauder coach Rob Grabill has made it easier, allowing Kable to train with his former high school teammates in advance of his trip.
“This has been one of the best teams I’ve ever played with,” said Kable, who left for Italy on Friday. “I’ve made a lot of great friends. This year, they have one of the best chances to win the whole thing in Division I. It would be an amazing opportunity; it’s definitely been tough knowing I could come back, play with these great guys and beat Bedford and Manchester Central again.”
What he loses in camaraderie, Kable hopes to gain with a unique experience.
“Italy is one of the more advanced in terms of the training they can offer, and the youth and national teams are among the highly respected in the world,” he said. “Being able to train with them for a year would help my game tremendously. The speed of play is much higher. Tactically, they are incredibly strong. Spending a year with them would raise my game more than I would have been able to if I’d stayed here for a year.”
Grabill doesn’t argue the point and encouraged both players to take advantage of their newfound choices. It also doesn’t hurt that the Marauders’ boys soccer program is so stacked with depth that it can afford to lose two midfield engines (not to mention goalkeeper Brendan Rhim to USA Cycling) and keep rolling along.
“This is a win-win situation,” Grabill said on Friday. “Jonas and Ethan and Brendan are happily sitting on the bench enjoying our success and we’re enjoying theirs. They’re happy with the fact that they don’t feel like they’ve let anybody down by not playing for Hanover.
“We have plenty of players to go around. There’s a phrase we use: We just snap our fingers and say, ‘Next.’
“The next thing you know, we have two sophomores starting for us. And they’ve proven over the first three games that they are ready.”
Greg Fennell can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3226.