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Altenau, 16, won’t get caught napping – Asbury Park Press
October 20, 2005

Altenau, 16, won’t get caught napping
Published in the Asbury Park Press on 10/20/05


Kyle Altenau sleeps soundly in the car on the way to soccer practice, which takes place an hour north from his home in West Long Branch.

When he and his mother, Maureen, arrive in Chesterfield for Jersey Shore Boca practice, the competitor inside the 16-year-old awakens.

“I don’t think there’s been one time that I haven’t fallen asleep in the car,” Altenau said. “But when I wake up, I’m ready to go.”

The naps came in handy when Altenau was selected for the second consecutive year as one of seven players from the Jersey Shore Boca League to make the Super Y-League Mid-Atlantic Divisional Olympic Development program roster.

The Super Y-League is governed by the United Soccer Leagues and the players selected represent the top U.S.-based players from the Super Y-League 2005 season.

“It was jaw-dropping to find out that I was selected again,” Altenau said. “It’s so huge to get picked for something like this and it’s a great opportunity to show my ability.”

Players for the teams were scouted by the league’s Olympic Development Program Scouting Network, composed of more than 500 coaching staff members from clubs across the nation.

“As you play, coaches of other teams observe and recommend certain individuals,” said Tom Gentz, Altenau’s Masa Grizzlies Jersey Shore Boca League coach. “Kyle is such a dominant player in the (Jersey Shore Boca U16) league that he was noticed by opposing clubs.”

Altenau will showcase his talents with 17 other players selected to the Mid-Atlantic division when they travel to Cocoa, Fla., in January to participate in national Cocoa Expo team camps: Jan. 12-15 for U15, U16 and U17 boys, and Jan. 26-29 for U13 and U14 boys.

The intense schedule will start as soon as Altenau arrives in camp. He will be assigned a team, receive a schedule and compete with players he’s never met.

“You never realize how many different styles of soccer there are until you’re out there,” Altenau said. “There are so many perspectives people have on the game.”

Altenau also said the competition is intense.

“You definitely feel the pressure,” he said. “In last year’s games, I had butterflies and kept making mistakes because I was so nervous.”

This year, he said he feels calm and prepared due to his rigorous training schedule and weight-lifting three times a week. The ultimate goal is for the participants to play in the national pool and have the chance to make the national team.

“U.S. Soccer is looking for the best kids in the country, and this is their way to look over players,” Gentz said.

According to Gentz, if coaches think that Altenau has

enough potential, they will most likely invite him to train with the national team for a few weeks to see how he does.

“To play in front of former national men’s team members and have them watch is incredible,” Altenau said. “It’s the reason I started playing.”

Altenau began his soccer career at the age of 4 and comes from a soccer family. His older brother, Mark, played with him in the backyard and his father, Michael, coached. Altenau’s cousin, Rob Donohoe, was the head soccer coach at Shore Regional High School.

“I grew up playing in leagues and I was good at it,” Altenau said. He played in a recreation league until fifth grade and for the Ocean traveling team until three years ago, when he started playing for Jersey Shore Boca.

A junior at Shore Regional, Altenau has been on the boys varsity team since his freshman year.

“I’ve never seen anyone control the midfield like he does,” Shore Regional teammate Matt Villane, 17, said. “He has so much presence on the ball that no one can really knock him off it.”

“He’s the kind of player that changes the game,” Gentz said. “He’s an attacking midfielder and very good defensively. He reads the game and what opposing players are going to do before they do it.”

Gentz said that Altenau is definitely good enough to play NCAA Division I soccer, and perhaps even professionally.

“He has that internal drive, there’s no question ever with him,” Gentz said.

Altenau admits that he worries about his knees holding back his career.

“My whole life I’ve had knee trouble,” he said. “One decides to get better while the other goes bad. It’s so hard to get back in the swing of things once you’re out.”

Gentz said he has confidence in Altenau’s abilities.

“He is very focused and intense and I never need to take him out,” Gentz said. “He is the total package. He can really go far.”

He just needs a quick nap first.

Courtney Johnson: (732) 643-4040 or