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At 6’6” and 300−plus pounds, Oday Aboushi is the kind of guy who’s used to getting noticed.
The 18−year−old Xaverian High School graduate dominated the Catholic High School Football League (CHSFL) for the Clippers, and the University of Virginia can’t wait for the explosive offensive tackle to help the Cavaliers light up the ACC.
So, when USA Football began to assemble its squad of choice American players for the upcoming International Federation of American Football Junior World Championship in Canton, Ohio, from June 27 to July 5, it’s not surprising that the Xaverian standout made an impression.
“This is so big,” Aboushi said this week after practice. “We’re having a ball. Playing for the gold medal is a once−in−a−lifetime opportunity.”
As part of national team, Aboushi will be squaring off against an elite group of international players at historic Fawcett Field representing seven countries −− Canada, Germany, France, Japan, Sweden, New Zealand and Mexico −− across four continents.
“We’ve got so much talent,” Aboushi said. “We’re going to be really good. I think we’re going to take the gold.”
Team USA head coach Chuck Kyle couldn’t be more pleased with Aboushi and his newfound teammates.
“This young man has a very bright future in football,” coach Kyle said. “He is a very good technician. He has excellent footwork. Offensive linemen are big, and he is outstanding that way. They’re going to enjoy him going to Virginia.”
Aboushi will report to the University of Virginia immediately following the conclusion of the Junior World Championship tournament.
“I’m looking forward to playing at the next level,” he said.
Long commutes are nothing new to the Brooklyn native. After moving from Sunset Park to Staten Island as a young lad, Aboushi found that he had to contend with an hour−and−a−half commute to Xaverian High School every morning.
“The commute was pretty tough,” Aboushi admits. “But it’s taught me so much and I’ve really grown to love Xaverian.”
Certainly everyone at Xaverian High School is pulling for Aboushi’s success in the tournament.
“The whole school is really excited about it,” Aboushi said. “This is the first time anyone from the school has been selected.”
As good as Team USA might be, Team Canada is shaping up to be the squad to beat.
“I like our talent and speed,” Coach Kyle said. “Our kids are well schooled. Our challenge is that a number of other countries have been practicing for a while. We’ve been practicing for three days.”
The international players also have an edge over their American counterparts in that they’re accustomed to short layoffs between games.
In this country, teams usually play once a week. But that won’t be the case in the IFAF Junior World Championship tourney.
“We come out of practice and get all the treatment we need,” Aboushi said. “Nothing is going to slow us down.”
For all the excitement surrounding the quest for a gold medal on a world stage, Coach Kyle says that beating opponents isn’t something he’s dwelling on.
“We haven’t talked about winning that much,” coach Kyle said. “It’s more about addressing the issue of playing the game the way it should be played and celebrating football. The countries coming over are not the enemy. There are no politics in this.”
Aboushi hopes to one day be drafted into the NFL and thinks his pass blocking is the best part of his game.
College obligations, intense practices and challenging schedules aside, opponents should expect one thing from the Brooklyn product − intensity.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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