Retired Addison Trail football coach and teacher Paul Parpet knows Carmen Messina as well as anyone. Parpet can take pride that Messina, a 2007 Blazers graduate who went on to star for New Mexico, signed a free-agent contract with the Detroit Lions.
"I think he's going to give it all he's got," Parpet said. "He could be one of those players that could hang around for 15 years, you never know."
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A 6-foot-2, 236-pound inside linebacker, Messina made 454 tackles for the Lobos, the most in Mountain West Conference history and more than his hero, former New Mexico standout Brian Urlacher. In 2011 Messina made 142 tackles to lead the Mountain West for a third straight season and rank sixth nationally. In 2009 he led the nation with 162 tackles.
Fox Sports called him a "pure run stopper" and "a cerebral player who knows how to strip the ball and demonstrates excellent tackling technique."
Parpet called him a two-way starter, an all-state player who "never came off the field" in Addison Trail's 2006 West Suburban Conference Gold Division title year, its last prior to 2011.
"I've known Carmen since he was like in sixth grade," Parpet said. "When he came into Addison Trail he was just first class not only as an athlete but academically. He went about his business, but he also was a lot of fun to be around. He was a very good competitor and he did a lot for Addison Trail High School, just like he did for New Mexico."
The coach saw firsthand how Messina affected Lobos football culture when he and his wife, Diane, attended New Mexico's senior day in November.
"Everybody had (number) 58 jerseys out there for Carmen, they were selling them in the stores," Parpet said. He noted even Messina's younger brother, Anthony, was interviewed on local television.
Carmen Messina fielded several calls and text messages from pro teams during his senior season, but he and his agent decided Detroit would be the best fit, a decision Parpet also lauded.
Messina and Parpet communicated during the NFL Draft weekend and also while Messina was in Detroit for the initial rookie camp.
"He said that he's got to get back used to the speed of the game," Parpet said. "When you don't play since November it's a little bit different. But if anybody can do it, I'm sure Carmen can."
What a trip
Several local boys soccer players got a once-in-a-lifetime experience playing with their club team, the Under-18 Futbol Club Panthers.
From March 26-April 2 the team -- which in 2010-11 went 52-6-2 said coach Dino Delevski -- went to Palliano, Italy, about 30 minutes away from Rome. It was a combination competition and sightseeing excursion that also developed relationships between the club and city. Those making the trip included Glenbard North players Ryan Anderson, Danny Sales and Jonathon Collucci, and Glenbard East's Ian Leifheit and Giovanni Guerrero.
"It was incredible," said Delevski, a former two-time Major Indoor Soccer League MVP. "The great thing that came out of this was the qualify of the performances."
A native of Macedonia, Delevski came to the United States as a senior exchange student in Oklahoma City. Out of Oklahoma City University he was initially offered a pro contract with the MISL's Wichita Wings, and he later came to the Midwest via the Rockford Rampage and Milwaukee Wave. He got an apartment in Carol Stream and in 2009, after retiring from play, joined FC Panthers as director of coaching. He coaches several teams, among them the U18 boys.
"It's one of the strongest teams around, if not the strongest," Delevski said.
They got to prove it three times in an international setting. The Panthers rang up a 7-1 win playing one half against an Italian second-division pro club, Frosinone, and the second half against Frosinone's academy team. The next game was against their host city, Palliano, and Collucci scored his second goal in as many games in another win.
The capper, competition-wise, was playing an adult team of international students, some of them former professionals, at The Pontifical North American College in Vatican City. The Panthers beat them 3-1, but at that site maybe the score was beside the point.
"It made you feel like you were in a completely different state of mind," Delevski said about the pristine turf field. "Every blade of grass was cut with a purpose."
Centered in Palliano, the boys also enjoyed a travel itinerary created by a suburban company called Tuscany Tours. They visited the Sistine Chapel, Naples, Pompeii, the Trevi Fountain and the Roman Colosseum.
"Our agenda of the things that we got to see over there was very fulfilling, and everywhere we went we got VIP status," said Delevski, adding the team even got to dine with the mayor of Palliano.
This was just the first part of the relationship with Palliano, he said. The club will welcome Italian youth teams this fall, and some Panthers players will visit Italy in the spring with an opportunity to try out for the training academies of top-division Italian clubs.
The Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association National Championships are in the final four, and that means Naperville North graduate Ben Domyancic is busy in goal.
A senior at Dayton, Domyancic brought in a .614 save percentage, a 7.375 goals-against percentage and 54 groundballs, leading all of Division II, into the Flyers' semifinal matchup Thursday against St. Thomas in Greenville, S.C. St. Thomas is ranked No. 1, Dayton No. 6.
Awaiting in Saturday's championship is the winner between Grand Valley State and Davenport University, also in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The Flyers, 13-3 overall and 4-0 in their division of the Central Collegiate Lacrosse Association, also feature Naperville North midfielder John Giovannini and Waubonsie Valley defender Ben Smith. Last season Dayton reached the final four with several other local players including another Naperville North grad, Kurt Pedersen.
The MCLA website is fun to hunt and peck, revealing such nuggets as: Wheaton Academy graduate Kai Libby, a freshman midfielder at Wheaton College, averaged 4 goals a game.