Readers, I’ve been dying to tell you this story. Timing – and his parents’ humility – have kept Hopkinton Middle School’s William Recupero from these pages. But I am happy to say that today is the day.
There’s talent, and then there’s extraordinary, out of this world talent. And when you combine that with an incredible work ethic and a soccer IQ that is off the charts, you get this kid.
On Friday, Hopkinton seventh grader Will Recupero boarded a flight for San Diego, joining the United States Youth National Team at their Chula Vista training camp. Recupero is among the best 36 players in the country born in 2009. Only he wasn’t – Recupero was born in 2010 and is playing one year up. He will be playing with 14 year olds affiliated with Major League Soccer powerhouses LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders FC, Philadelphia Union, FC Dallas, and many others. Recupero is one of four players not in the MLS system; he represents his home club, the Boston Bolts, where he plays two years up, on the 2008 team.
His hope is that he will eventually be selected for the United States Youth National Team, an immense honor, and for Recupero, a dream come true. His selection to train at the highest level of youth soccer is a testament to his unwavering dedication, exceptional skills, and undeniable talent.
(Full disclosure: I have known the Recupero family since 2015, so I have had the pleasure of watching young Will grow up.)
Since he was a little boy I never saw Will without a ball at his feet. He was a rambunctious youngster, always bouncing off the furniture, dribbling the ball and wearing the jersey of Lionel Messi, Luka Modrić, or one of many other superstars in the soccer universe.
Athletics runs in the family. His mother, Stephanie, was a standout forward at George Mason University. His father, Bill, played ice hockey and was a field goal kicker at Bowdoin College in Maine. Oldest sister Sophia, a rising Senior at Buckingham Browne & Nichols committed to Duke University this year, and his other sister, Madison, is a midfielder on the Hopkinton High girls team that made a late run into the playoffs last fall.
All of this comes with sacrifice. Countless hours in the car and on a plane shepherding Will to games, tournaments and showcases have led to this call-up. If and when Will has his own kids he may realize the sacrifice his parents made to get him where he is today. But for now he’s focused on one thing, and that is proving himself amongst the best talent in the country.
Just sitting with Will I am struck by how mature he is. He has studied his craft, and talks about the game in a way that belies his years. He is humble. In an environment where every kid knows what’s at stake, their natural instinct is to hog the ball and to prove themself with individual effort. Instead, Recupero shares it. He’s a true #10 that makes the players around him better.
He’ll spend this week in California, training with the countries’ best in preparation for an international call-up next year when the friendly matches are scheduled. Recently the U-15 team went to Spain to play a tournament against the Japanese, English and Spanish sides.
“The coaches are fantastic,” said Recupero. “They’re all ex-college coaches and they are the best in the country.”
Will also gets along well with the other players. “I enjoy meeting kids from all over,” he said. “They’re all really nice. There is definitely good competition because these guys are all really good. But I can only control how I play so that’s what I try to stay focused on.”
His ultimate goal: To play for the US Men’s National Team. He was five years old when he started to dream that dream.
“I was watching the Women’s World Cup in 2015 when the US women won, and I remember thinking that would be really fun.”
When he’s not playing soccer – which is a rarity – Recupero enjoys golfing with his pals at Pinecrest and cheering on his sisters.
“We’re certainly proud of him,” said his father, Bill. “And he’s earned it. No one pushes him, he just does it on his own. If he doesn’t think he’s had a good practice he comes home and works on it on his own. And he has been fortunate to have a lot of really good people around him – family, coaches and mentors.”
He’s one to watch, readers.