Charlie Faoro was nervous before coming to a soccer team workout this summer.
The Homewood-Flossmoor senior had stayed away from soccer for two years. He didn’t even kick a ball around with friends during that time.
Predictably, that first workout was rough.
“I didn’t want to embarrass myself,” Faoro said. “Everybody was so much faster. I didn’t play varsity my sophomore year, so the pace of play was so much faster than I was anticipating. I had to build up my confidence. It took a little bit.”
Baseball is his No. 1 sport. His athletic future will come playing shortstop or pitching for a college team. H-F soccer coach Jairo Garcia knows that and takes no issue with the occasional missed practice for college visits and even weekend games during the early part of the year. But Faoro has kept his absences to a minimum.
“I prioritized soccer because it’s the soccer season. I committed to this and I told my baseball coach that,” he said.
Garcia wasn’t coaching when Faoro was last part of the program. Friends had to convince him to come in. It didn’t take long for coaches to realize they might have a player.
“Probably the second day I was like ‘Where has this kid been the whole last season?’ He just had to get his legs under him. His soccer touch was a little off but as soon as he started getting those touches in, you could see he just naturally gets it,” Garcia said. “The IQ is there and that’s hard to teach.”
Faoro has six goals and an assist on the season, leading the Vikings (4-11-1, as of Oct. 8) in scoring and points. That’s a little out of the ordinary for a midfielder whose primary responsibility is working the transition game.
Garcia said he gives Faoro a long leash, both to shoot and to make a risky pass. Faoro says teammate Mark Gislason’s throw-in abilities create opportunities similar to a corner kick.
Faoro’s height and aggression give him an advantage in the air.
“He’s the heart of the team,” Garcia said. “He’s just that kind of kid that’s going to give you everything and doesn’t complain. If anything, I try to push him to be a louder leader. Maybe he feels like it’s his first year on varsity and he shouldn't (speak out) but he’s a senior and he’s proved it, not only scoring goals but every kid here respects what he does.”
Faoro hasn’t decided where he’ll go to college, but he knows he wants to study computer science. He built his first computer in eighth grade and decided the subject was for him.
“I’ve always found it fun and interesting to just mess around with,” he said. “I started taking computer science classes here at H-F and I really liked it. That’s the top of my list right now.”
Garcia is a new coach. He’s trying to build a foundation for a program that he hopes will see more wins at some point in the future. Faoro and the rest of the senior class are part of that.
The postseason starts next week. The Vikings lost a 5-0 match to Lockport Tuesday. Faoro said it will be fresh in the Vikings’ minds.
“We’re looking forward to getting some revenge,” he said. “We haven’t won a playoff game in a long time so that’s priority No. 1.”