Two Revere soccer players put on All-American watchlist

Rorabaugh+passes+the+ball+to+Effinger.

Maggy Messner

Rorabaugh passes the ball to Effinger.

Charlie Messner, Reporter

In 2010 Eric Stratman finally committed to fulfilling a longtime promise he had made to himself. He was going to make his dream of an All-American youth soccer game come true.

All-American games are not a new concept. It is in the nature of fans of all kinds of sports to pick favorite players across teams and imagine a game in which they all play together. Many organizations dedicated to different athletics have brought that very fantasy to life for many fans, and yet, until only ten years ago, none of them had favored soccer.

Eric Stratman set out to change this. At first the United States Soccer Federation did not support this decision. Money was tight, and it was difficult to find players willing to compete. But after that first All-American game in 2011, one player was spotted by a great college and now plays professionally. Seeing how this game can change the lives of soccer players, Eric didn’t give up.

Now, the game has become an integral part of the soccer community, and Revere is lucky enough to potentially send two seniors to it—James Effinger and Trevor Rorabaugh.

The two explained their reactions to discovering they were on the watchlist.

“I got an email from my coach, and I got a text from him too, and I didn’t know what was going on. But I checked, and I was on the watchlist. It was me and ten other people from Ohio, so that was really cool. But without in-game successes, it doesn’t mean much to me,” Effinger said.

Effinger celebrates a successful game. (Maggy Messner)

Rorabaugh responded similarly.

“I was surprised, mostly, when my coach told me that… I was ecstatic. [It will be] a good recap to my career,” Rorabaugh said.

Trevor Rorabaugh and James Effinger’s leadership and bond with their teammates is what made them stand out to the scouts. As team captains, the two led the team to an undefeated season this year, the first since 2013. This victory is credited to the team’s biggest strength—their relationship with each other. Revere’s soccer coach Nick DePompei explained.

“When you watch them play, you can tell they have a connection as far as how they move the ball. On the field things move pretty quickly because they have a pretty good understanding of where the other one is going to be, which honestly kind of leads to the undefeated season—their ability to come to have a connection and get to that point,” DePompei said.

Rorabaugh commented on that connection to his teammates.

Effinger and Rorabaugh lead a pre-game meeting. (Maggy Messner)

“I think we have good chemistry. I mean, we’re brothers. We love each other. During the off season, we would go to Buffalo Wild Wings, twice I think, or before that, we would go to putt-putt and hang,” Rorabaugh said.

According to a 2018 study from Northwestern University, chemistry has a great influence on a team’s chances. Each individual player’s stats across a few sports teams were calculated and used to predict wins and losses. It wasn’t until the researchers also factored in the numbers of wins teammates had previously celebrated together that these predictions started getting accurate. Chemistry between players is one of the main components of a winning team. During practice, Revere has tailored to that already prominent strength.

“Every year, the group is a little different, so we try to tailor [practice] to the team. We have a lot of stuff that we do—and this might be getting too technical—but combination play, practice and possession exercises [help] as far as just increasing that one on one or one person situation on the field. [We are] looking forward [into] more situations with the ball at three or four players at a time,” DePompei said.

Combination play refers to synchronized attacks where up to four players position themselves to create certain shapes that trap their opponent, leaving the competition with no choice but to give up the ball. Possession refers to a team’s ability to keep the ball under their control, measured by who kicks the ball where and to who.

The two names on the watchlist both belong to team captains who have been playing at Revere High School together from 2018 to 2022. They both are credited with keeping the team upbeat and inspiring younger players. Additionally, this year, Rorabaugh became a member of the GASSCA Division II All-Star Team and was named the Player of the Year. Both Effinger and Rorabaugh were also named members of the All Greater Akron First-Team.

DePompei explained how their leadership has led them closer to their ultimate goal, a win in the playoffs.

“Their leadership this year has been crucial. Their maturity and their leadership both on and off the field set a really good standard for the team as a whole. [They have] been a pretty integral part of making sure these teams stay on the right path, and having them in mind keeps us going towards the ultimate goal,” DePompei said.

Rorabaugh has had a long relationship with the sport. His dad played soccer throughout highschool, so from a young age, Rorabaugh learned a lot through him. Additionally, social studies teacher at Revere and the head coach of the Revere girl’s soccer team Mr. Jakab gave Rorabaugh some one-on-one practice.

“My dad, definitely [was an influence]. I did private sessions with Mr. Jakab, and that really grew my strengths… [but] my dad has really helped me grow as a player and as a person,” Rorabaugh said.

Captian Rorabaugh walks to the sideline as halftime begins. (Maggy Messner)

Effinger credits his success to his ability to relax on the field.

“I wasn’t as stressed, or as nervous, going into games, and in doing that, I was more confident and ended up playing better during the games,” Effinger said.

Despite a spot on the All-American team being one of the most impressive trophies in youth soccer, Rorabaugh and James are team players to the end.

“I’d rather take home the win for the championship than any individual accolade because it’s for the community, it’s for my team,” Rorabaugh said.

Ten years ago, Eric Stratman never would have imagined the effect his work would have on high school soccer enthusiasts throughout America. His goal of giving the soccer community a convention to celebrate the work players put into their sport is accomplished, reaching even Revere’s own corner of the world. Trevor Rorabaugh and James Effinger had their final year as Revere Soccer players  commemorated with the honor of getting on the watchlist, putting them in Stratman’s—and America’s—book as some of the best high school soccer players of 2021 nationwide.

Effinger helps lead the team to a 9-0 victory against Fairless in the playoffs. (Maggy Messner)