Severna Park Middle School eighth-grader Michael Daugard said he waspretty excited about trying out for the Olympic Development Program state select boys soccer team.
Imagine how he feels now that he's made it.
Daugard and five other members of the 1977 Severna Park Blazers youth soccer team recently were chosen after taking part in four tryouts, including two at Anne Arundel Community College.
Also picked was Scott Vane, a member of the 1978 Severna Park Stingers.
The locals are among a group of 25 who will travel to a regional selection camp in Binghamton, N.Y., during the summer in hopes of making the Region I team, something 13-year-old Crofton resident Tim Main accomplished last year.
Main, Scott Neuberger, Chris Rippel and Vane were selected to the state's under-13 1/2 squad,while Daugard, Steve Burlingame and Matt Weibe made the under-14 1/2 entry.
Everyone except Main, 13, is a first-time qualifier.
"One of the fathers was askingme about my experience last year. I think they were all a little curious," said Main, who attends Queen Anne's Country School in Prince George's County.
Main, a midfielder, didn't assume he would survivethe final cuts simply because he had been successful the previous year.
"There are never any definite yes's or no's," he said. "You just go out and work your hardest -- play your best and hope for the best."
While Daugard, 14, would relish the opportunity to compete at the region level, he realizes simply making the state team providesa mighty boost to his soccer career.
"People are impressed with those who can play on a state team. Word travels fast," he said.
"Iwanted the chance to do good in front of the coaches, and I ended uplearning a lot. I found out how well I could do against all these other players from around the state."
So did Weibe, 14, a center-halfback who was cut during state tryouts last year, but remained undaunted.
"It didn't discourage me. I just continued to practice real hard," he said.
Weibe feels competing in the National Capital Soccer League, especially with the Division I Blazers, proved advantageous during the tryouts.
"Division I soccer in the NCSL is the toughest you can get," he said. "It's good, hard soccer. And our coach (Joe Coppola) is wonderful. He's the best coach I've ever had, and probably ever will have."
It was Coppola, recently honored as the Maryland State Youth Soccer Association and Region I Coach of the Year, who originally peaked Burlingame's interest in the ODP state team.
Burlingame, a 13-year-old fullback who also attends Severna Park Middle, was among the final two cuts last year.
"Coach made it sound really good. He said it would be an honor and a good experience for us," he said.
Then there is Neuberger, 13, a sweeper who scored fivegoals for the Blazers last fall. He was elated to make the state team on his first attempt, but wasn't afraid to fail.
"I have baseball and soccer," he said. "If I made it, great. If I didn't, no problem,"
Coppola expected them all to make it. And though the odds grow longer once summer tryouts begin, he said each has a legitimate shot at representing the region.
"These guys have as much chance as anyone else," he said. "They're all very strong players who are dedicated to the game. And they have very good attitudes. As a coach and someone who is around sports, these are the things you look for.
"That's not to underestimate the competition, though. It's going to be very fierce."
And very rewarding, Main said.
"It's a good experience for all of us," he said. "You get to meet people from all over. It will be good for a lot of my teammates to spread out."
Rippel, agoalie who posted a 4-2-2 record for the Blazers last season, said having so many of his teammates nearby will "make it easier."
"It helps having someone there I know. They're not just total strangers," he said.
No matter what transpires from here on, Coppola said eachindividual is reaping the benefits of participating in the ODP.
"First of all, it builds confidence and self-esteem for a kid to be selected to participate in something like this," he said. "But perhaps more importantly, the kids have an opportunity to compete at very high levels and to be exposed to those who coach at very high levels -- college coaches. They'll be able to learn from these people.
"People will be watching the future of soccer in America."