Soccer Players Earn Days in the Sun Local Teams Expected to Shine at National 3-on-3 Tournament in Florida

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Byline: John Lemon Daily Herald Sports Writer

Hundreds of DuPage County's young soccer players spent many of the dog days of the past summer sweating through tournament after tournament.

While their friends were enjoying air-conditioned living rooms and cool swimming pools, these players were out in the sun and humidity, refining their corner kicks and perfecting their cross-field passes.

Why? Well, there are many reasons, but one of the most rewarding will take place this weekend in Pensacola, Fla. All those 90-degree practices will really pay off.

While their classmates are spending another week shivering in Illinois, several players from West Chicago, Naperville, Wheaton, Downers Grove, Hinsdale, Lombard and Addison will be in Florida at the ninth annual 3-v-3 Soccer Shootout.

All the squads in the 425-team field at the Soccer Shootout qualified at regional events around the country in August. Many of the teams from this area advanced through Indianapolis.

The Soccer Shootout includes teams from age 7 to adult, with male and female divisions at each age level. Last year the event had 360 teams.

Illinois is sending 51 teams, more than any other state except Florida and Colorado. And many of the Illinois teams are the favorites in their divisions.

The Team Chicago under-9 girls, for example, are back to defend their 1998 championship. Lauren Levitt, Paige Stevens, Kelly Butler and Lisa Kemp make up the Energizers squad. They will leave Wednesday to practice for two days in Florida before the tournament.

The Team Chicago program, which mostly includes Naperville players, also had four other teams qualify for nationals. But the Energizers are the only ones going to Florida. Each team had its own reasons for not making the trip to nationals.

"Maybe it's because they don't want to travel to Florida," said Kim Levitt, one of the team's coaches. "There's various reasons - too far, some can't go. We're looking forward to it. The competition is strong."

But the Energizers will see several familiar faces in Florida.

Other local female teams going are the Looney Tunes (Wheaton, U-8), Intimidators (Wheaton, U-9), Wild Ones (Naperville, U-11), Firecats (West Chicago, U-12), Comets (Wheaton, U-12), Galaxy (Wheaton, U-12), Typhoons (West Chicago, U-13), All Stars (Downers Grove, U-13), Blasters (Wheaton, U-13), Hurricanes (Hinsdale, U-13), Four Score (Wheaton, U-14), CDL Eagles (West Chicago, U-15), Xtreme (Lombard, U-15) and Smurfs (Wheaton, U-15). …