TUCSON, Ariz. – Under-16 goalkeeper Austin Aviza and Under-18 midfielder Zachary Herivaux have trained with the New England Revolution’s first team before, joining the professionals for an occasional workout when time permits during school breaks and summer vacation.
But during this week’s February school vacation, they’re taking that experience to a whole new level.
Aviza and Herivaux are currently part of the Revolution’s preseason camp in Tucson, Ariz., where for the next week they’ll eat, sleep and train as part of the club’s travel party. The Academy duo will even be eligible to play for the Revs in the first two games of the Desert Diamond Cup without jeopardizing their NCAA eligibility.
For 18-year-old Herivaux, the prospect was almost too good to be true.
“When they first told me, I thought I was coming in and training with them at Gillette Stadium,” he said. “Then my coach talked to me and said, ‘Do you really want to go on this trip?’ Then I realized I had a chance to go to Arizona.
“I know this is a great opportunity because I always watch the first team play. I look up to them. It’s always a pleasure to come and play with them and get some tips.”
Director of Youth Development Bryan Scales agreed that this week of training offers Aviza and Herivaux the opportunity to soak up as much information as possible, but added that it’s also a chance for both to keep themselves on the radar of head coach Jay Heaps and the rest of the club’s technical staff.
Scales and the Academy staff have an ongoing dialogue with the first-team staff regarding youth players, as the club continuously works toward developing professionals from the Academy program.
“It’s an opportunity for them to immerse themselves with the first team and be seen by the first-team coaches,” said Scales. “A number of our other guys have really pushed themselves into the conversation, as well, but right now we feel like those two guys are deserving of a chance to go out and to really jump into the middle of a really professional week of training out in Tucson.”
Both Aviza and Herivaux said the Revolution’s first-team players have been welcoming and supportive, always willing to offer advice which the youngsters are eager to soak up.
They also received some words of wisdom from Heaps as Tucson camp opened on Sunday morning.
“Just work hard every day,” Aviza said.
“He told me before we came out, just have fun; don’t worry about what’s going on and the environment,” said Herivaux. “Everyone’s here to have fun. Play your game and you’ll do fine.”