MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

February 3, 2013

11-year-old stays home in earning state team berth

By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer

— Kaleb Di Noia is proof that big doesn’t always mean the best.

The 11-year-old Muskogee boy plays for 3 Rivers Football Club, a competitive branch of the Muskogee Soccer Club, and has been chosen for the Oklahoma Olympic Developmental Team.

A center midfielder, Kaleb Di Noia is one of 36 players on the squad that will three games against a team from Texas on Feb. 15-17 in College Station, Texas.

Two other Muskogee boys, Ethan Wallace and Max James, are also on the squad but they are members of the Tulsa Soccer Club.

Di Noia’s father, Philip, said he didn’t hesitate in deciding to keep his son in the smaller program.

“The whole thing is we want to be here,” he said. “We don’t have the amount of kids that Tulsa has and (3 Rivers) just had their first season last year. For him to make the team from a new club and in a small town, that’s quite a big accomplishment.

“Tulsa Soccer Club has thousands of kids with more than 100 coaches. We have 37 kids and one coach.”

The elder Di Noia also credits his son’s coach, Shane Roberson, for the boy’s success.

“I coached (Kaleb) until he turned 10 and then Shane started coaching him,” Philip Di Noia said. “My son has come leaps and bounds since Shane has coached him. Both my son and I think the coach is the reason why Kaleb made the Olympic Developmental team.”

Depending on what happens in those three games in College Station, the younger Di Noia has a chance to be named to the Region IV Olympic Developmental and Under-15 Olympic Developmental teams.

Other states, except Kansas and Nebraska, have Olympic Developmental teams, Philip Di Noia said.