Generation Next: The best youth athletes in Greater New Haven

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It’s never too early to look ahead. So here’s a peek into the future at 11 emerging athletes from the Greater New Haven area.

Meet Generation Next…

Douglas Harrison:  "Right now, this kid is probably one of the best 7th-, 8th-graders around," Football University Connecticut regional director Mike Rice said. "He's proven himself on that platform. I don't see any reason why we won't see him playing on Saturdays for a top college."

Douglas Harrison:
“Right now, this kid is probably one of the best 7th-, 8th-graders around,” Football University Connecticut regional director Mike Rice said. “He’s proven himself on that platform. I don’t see any reason why we won’t see him playing on Saturdays for a top college.”

FOOTBALL:
DOUGLAS HARRISON III

This running back was one of 48 players in the nation selected to play in the Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl.

Harrison is a 7th-grader at Walsh Intermediate School in Branford. He has explosive speed, moves that shake defenders out of their cleats and enough strength to run through them. Harrison (5 feet 6, 175 pounds) rushed for over 1,400 yards and 18 touchdowns in eight games playing against 8th-graders in the Shoreline Youth Football Conference.

He was also chosen to play for Football University’s Southern Connecticut team, and Harrison shined in regional play. He scored both touchdowns in a 14-12 win over Massachusetts, including a game-winning 85-yard TD in the fourth quarter.

“Right now, this kid is probably one of the best 7th-, 8th-graders around,” Football University Connecticut regional director Mike Rice said. “He’s proven himself on that platform. I don’t see any reason why we won’t see him playing on Saturdays for a top college.”

Matt Soloman: Belted 22 homers and earned a trip to the prestigious Power Showcase Future Stars event in Florida. Soloman, who attends North Haven Middle School, plays for the Connecticut Bombers, an AAU powerhouse. The shortstop batted .409 with 14 home runs and 56 RBIs last spring in helping the Bombers win the Northeast Regional AAU title

Matt Soloman: Belted 22 homers and earned a trip to the prestigious Power Showcase Future Stars event in Florida. Soloman, who attends North Haven Middle School, plays for the Connecticut Bombers, an AAU powerhouse. The shortstop batted .409 with 14 home runs and 56 RBIs last spring in helping the Bombers win the Northeast Regional AAU title

BASEBALL:
MATT SOLOMAN

This North Haven 13-year-old put his powerful swing on display by winning New Jersey’s Power Showcase home run derby last year.

Soloman belted 22 homers and earned a trip to the prestigious Power Showcase Future Stars event in Florida. Soloman, who attends North Haven Middle School, plays for the Connecticut Bombers, an AAU powerhouse. The shortstop batted .409 with 14 home runs and 56 RBIs last spring in helping the Bombers win the Northeast Regional AAU title. He also played occasionally for the program’s 14-U team.

Bombers program director Bob Turcio says Soloman is a future Division I talent with a strong arm and tremendous hitting ability.

“He’s got good size and strength,” said Turcio of the 5-5, 135-pound Soloman. “He’s the whole package.”

Soloman’s father, Frank, played third base and catcher at Quinnipiac. His cousin is Eastern Kentucky infielder and MLB prospect Bryan Soloman.

Rebecca Findley: "She makes plays the typical kid can't," said Neil Swanchak, coach of the CT Charmers travel program. "She's going to be a future star if she progresses the way people think. She has all the tools to go far."

Rebecca Findley: “She makes plays the typical kid can’t,” said Neil Swanchak, coach of the CT Charmers travel program. “She’s going to be a future star if she progresses the way people think. She has all the tools to go far.”

SOFTBALL:
REBECCA FINDLEY

Expect Findley to help carry on the rich tradition of Seymour High softball in the upcoming years.

A shortstop, Findley makes dazzling plays in the field, boasts a strong arm and a consistent bat at the plate. She led the Seymour Little League team to a state title and hit .562 with three homers and six doubles for the Seymour Tradition travel program last summer.

Findley was playing in the Seymour Little League majors division by age 9. Now 13, she’s an 8th-grader at Seymour Middle School.

“She makes plays the typical kid can’t,” said Neil Swanchak, coach of the CT Charmers travel program. “She’s going to be a future star if she progresses the way people think. She has all the tools to go far.”

Aiden Roundtree: "He has an enticing combination of size, skill and athleticism, and a natural feel for the game," said AJ Stokes of Hoop Rootz. "He can shoot it from the outside or go attack with the dribble to get to the basket. He can also handle the ball and will lead the fast break and distribute the ball to his teammates for scoring opportunities."

Aiden Roundtree: “He has an enticing combination of size, skill and athleticism, and a natural feel for the game,” said AJ Stokes of Hoop Rootz. “He can shoot it from the outside or go attack with the dribble to get to the basket. He can also handle the ball and will lead the fast break and distribute the ball to his teammates for scoring opportunities.”

BOYS BASKETBALL:
AIDEN ROUNTREE

HoopRootz.net, which follows youth players up and down the East Coast, ranks Rountree as one of the state’s top prospects for the Class of 2019.

“He has an enticing combination of size, skill and athleticism, and a natural feel for the game,” said AJ Stokes of Hoop Rootz. “He can shoot it from the outside or go attack with the dribble to get to the basket. He can also handle the ball and will lead the fast break and distribute the ball to his teammates for scoring opportunities.”

A 5-10 6th-grader, Rountree attends Hamden Hall and plays for the East Coast Elite AAU program. He’s from New Haven and also plays with 8th-graders in the city’s Farnham league. His Farnham coach, Mike Jackson, says at Rountree’s age, he’s as good as players like Geary Claxton (Career/Penn State) and Casey Hughes (Hamden Hall/Yale).

It’s in his genetics, too. Rountree’s father, Terry, played at West Haven and then Boston College. His older brother, TJ, is now playing at Hamden Hall.

Tanayja London: London put on a shooting clinic, leading her team to a title in the West Haven youth summer basketball league. Coach Desmond Lymon recalls London once making six 3-pointers in a single game.

Tanayja London: London put on a shooting clinic, leading her team to a title in the West Haven youth summer basketball league. Coach Desmond Lymon recalls London once making six 3-pointers in a single game.

GIRLS BASKETBALL:
TANAYJA LONDON

Down at the courts of Nike Site in West Haven, the baskets are double-rimmed. That usually doesn’t favor pure shooters, but it didn’t seem to faze the 12-year-old London this past summer.

London put on a shooting clinic, leading her team to a title in the West Haven youth summer basketball league. Coach Desmond Lymon recalls London once making six 3-pointers in a single game.

London, daughter of former West Haven star Rich London, is known for her silky-smooth jumper, but she’s a well-rounded player. Tanayja is from Branford and is a 7th-grader at Davis Street Magnet School in New Haven. By the time she was 6, she was scoring about 13 points per game playing with 8-year-olds. She plays AAU ball with the CT United Queens.

Hillhouse coach Catrina Hawley-Stewart says London is a future Division I player. Lymon says the same.

“I haven’t seen a girl that can shoot like that in a long, long time,” Lymon said.

Billy Dobensky: "His compete level is off the charts," said Alden, who sees Dobensky playing in the ECAC down the road, perhaps for an Ivy League school. "He's very humble and hard-working. He's definitely a Division I talent."

Billy Dobensky: “His compete level is off the charts,” said Alden, who sees Dobensky playing in the ECAC down the road, perhaps for an Ivy League school. “He’s very humble and hard-working. He’s definitely a Division I talent.”

HOCKEY:
BILLY DOBENSKY

Pete Alden doesn’t hesitate to call Dobensky the best 13-year-old defenseman in the state.

Yes, he’s that good. And he has the résumé to back it up. He was one of just a handful of kids from the tri-state area to be selected to play for the New York Peewee Rangers at the Quebec International Peewee Hockey Tournament. There, he was coached by Doug and Mark Messier, along with Mike Richter. He will represent Team Connecticut at this year’s New England Festival and plays on Hamden Hall’s top line as an 8th-grader.

The 5-9, 147-pound Dobensky has the skating ability, stick skills and strength to make him a promising young talent. The Shelton native plays for Alden with the CT Junior Wolfpack.

“His compete level is off the charts,” said Alden, who sees Dobensky playing in the ECAC down the road, perhaps for an Ivy League school. “He’s very humble and hard-working. He’s definitely a Division I talent.”

David Judd: "If he continues like this, he's going to be one of the next great runners by the time he gets to high school," New Haven Age Group coach William Thompson said.

David Judd: “If he continues like this, he’s going to be one of the next great runners by the time he gets to high school,” New Haven Age Group coach William Thompson said.

BOYS TRACK:
DAVID JUDD

The New Haven Age Group Track Club has produced a plethora of great runners.

Expect to add Judd to the list.

Judd, 11, is a 6th-grader at Edgewood Elementary School in New Haven and has shown a ton of potential already.

“If he continues like this, he’s going to be one of the next great runners by the time he gets to high school,” New Haven Age Group coach William Thompson said.

Judd placed fourth in the 3,000 meters with a time of 10 minutes, 45 seconds at the AAU U.S. National Junior Olympics. He also finished fourth in the 3,000 and seventh in the 1,500 at the United Age Group Track Club Coaches Association Invitational. And he took fifth place out of 581 runners at the state middle school cross country championship.

Judd also plays the saxophone, piano and is a straight-A student.

Kristen Washington: Placed fourth in the long jump at the 2012 USATF Junior Olympics with a distance of 15 feet, 6.75 inches. She finished sixth in the 400 with a time of 1:04.04 at the AAU Area I National Qualifier meet. Washington also won the long jump and placed third in both the 100 and 200 at the USATF Connecticut Association Championships last year.

Kristen Washington: Placed fourth in the long jump at the 2012 USATF Junior Olympics with a distance of 15 feet, 6.75 inches. She finished sixth in the 400 with a time of 1:04.04 at the AAU Area I National Qualifier meet. Washington also won the long jump and placed third in both the 100 and 200 at the USATF Connecticut Association Championships last year.

GIRLS TRACK:
KRISTEN WASHINGTON

About four summers ago, Washington attended Camp Cedarcrest. She was running races against other kids when a counselor noticed she was beating everyone. When her mother arrived to pick her up that day, the counselor approached her.

“Your daughter is real fast,” he said. “You should put her in track.”

Good advice.

Now a 13-year-old at Amistad Academy Middle School in New Haven, Washington has only gotten faster. She competes mainly in the 100, 200, 400 and the long jump for New Haven Age Group.

Washington placed fourth in the long jump at the 2012 USATF Junior Olympics with a distance of 15 feet, 6.75 inches. She finished sixth in the 400 with a time of 1:04.04 at the AAU Area I National Qualifier meet. Washington also won the long jump and placed third in both the 100 and 200 at the USATF Connecticut Association Championships last year.

Juan Leon-Munoz: "The potential is there," South Central coach Tim Stipo said. "If he gets into the Academy, the sky is the limit. For his age group, heÕs one of the top players I've seen. He has the skills and he's ahead of the curve. He just has to keep working."

Juan Leon-Munoz: “The potential is there,” South Central coach Tim Stipo said. “If he gets into the Academy, the sky is the limit. For his age group, heÕs one of the top players I’ve seen. He has the skills and he’s ahead of the curve. He just has to keep working.”

BOYS SOCCER:
JUAN LEON-MUNOZ

Leon-Munoz moved to the United States from Malaga, Spain, about five years ago and brought some European flair with him.

A center midfielder, Leon-Munoz has great foot skills, a hard strike and sees the field well. As a 13-year-old, he is playing with South Central Premier’s 14-U program.

“The potential is there,” South Central coach Tim Stipo said. “If he gets into the Academy, the sky is the limit. For his age group, he’s one of the top players I’ve seen. He has the skills and he’s ahead of the curve. He just has to keep working.”

Stipo added that Leon-Munoz has tremendous free-kick ability and does it all with style. He is a 7th-grader at Walsh Intermediate School.

Gia Edwards: "She has exceptional talent and ability," said Collins about the Milford 6th-grader. "She has good foot skills, technique, vision; she's pretty sound technically. She's aggressive and her thinking process of the game stands out."

Gia Edwards: “She has exceptional talent and ability,” said Collins about the Milford 6th-grader. “She has good foot skills, technique, vision; she’s pretty sound technically. She’s aggressive and her thinking process of the game stands out.”

GIRLS SOCCER:
GIA EDWARDS

South Central Premier coach Gary Collins says it’s pretty rare for an 11-year-old to play on the program’s 13-U team.

But then again, Edwards is special.

“She has exceptional talent and ability,” said Collins about the Milford 6th-grader. “She has good foot skills, technique, vision; she’s pretty sound technically. She’s aggressive and her thinking process of the game stands out.”

Collins, who also coaches Hamden High, compares Edwards to a combination of Rachel Ugolik (Hamden/Penn State) and Ahna Johnson (Hamden/Fairfield).

Edwards, an attacking midfielder, just started playing soccer three years ago. Along with playing for South Central, she helped lead her Amity travel team to the Connecticut Cup final in the fall. She also plays for the state’s Olympic Development Program in Farmington.

Liz Boyer: Ranked in the Top 10 nationally in eight different events for 12-year-olds in 2012-13. Two of those were the fastest times in the country Ñ the 200 short-course breaststroke (2:19.20) and 200 long-course breaststroke (2:39.88).

Liz Boyer: Ranked in the Top 10 nationally in eight different events for 12-year-olds in 2012-13. Two of those were the fastest times in the country Ñ the 200 short-course breaststroke (2:19.20) and 200 long-course breaststroke (2:39.88).

 GIRLS SWIMMING:
LIZ BOYER

There are simply too many accomplishments to list when it comes to Boyer. At just 13 years old, her résumé is already that impressive.

Boyer ranked in the Top 10 nationally in eight different events for 12-year-olds in 2012-13. Two of those were the fastest times in the country — the 200 short-course breaststroke (2:19.20) and 200 long-course breaststroke (2:39.88).

She holds Top 10 national all-time marks for 11- and 12-year-olds in the 200 short-course-yard breaststroke (fifth), 200 long-course-meter breaststroke (ninth) and 50 short-course-yard breaststroke (ninth), along with multiple all-time state and Eastern Zone records.

Furthermore, Boyer was one of just a select few 13-year-olds that qualified for the USA Swimming Junior Nationals.

Boyer, from Cheshire, swims for the Meriden Silver Fins program. Look for her to either become a part of the litany of star swimmers to attend Cheshire High or take the prep school route next year.

Either way, she’s a name to remember.

“I’ve seen a lot of great swimmers, quite a few that went on to swim in college,” said Silver Fins coach Eileen Thurston. “But she is special. She’s probably the most accomplished swimmer at that age I’ve ever coached. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her in the Olympics one day.”

Comments

  1. weshouldknowbettr says

    Say what you want,-this is WRONG! Glorifying kids as future stars when they have not played one competitive second at a varsity level, puts coaches and kids in a no win situation. This is a snap shot of all problems facing athletes today. What happens when they don’t pan out? But they were the NEXT Generation…

    Gametime CT has been a great site not sure about this one.

  2. Really says

    Agree – this has taken youth sports to a whole new level. What a joke…

    Some kids hit puberty before others and they excell at younger ages. Then everyone else does and things equal out. YES there are those special athletes but to label them now, CRAZY. I hope they all do well but whoever organized this needs to rethink what they are doing and why.

  3. gobballfan says

    agree, agree, agree. To say that a 12 year old is a future D! player is ridiculous. There are kids like this all over the place. I don’t blame the kids. I blame GametimeCT and parents and coaches for this article. I just feel sorry for any of these kids who don’t make it. Call me in 3 or 4 years and tell me they are all dominating their sport, if they are even still playing that sport.
    Shame, shame shame.

  4. ter says

    watch the 30 for 30 special little big men about the little league team who won the world series with a great pitcher, and how that kid wound up hating baseball as a teenager because of all the hype around him and the hate he endured because of it. i hope all these kids make it but to write an article like this about kids who should be playing for fun and not D1 scholarships is disgusting…. shame on you gametime for running this

  5. Show Me The Money says

    Are you kidding me?! Who did research for this article? My son threw 33 touchdown passes in 9 youth football games this past fall. He also ran for 12 TDs. He led his league in QB rating, pass attempts and completions. How does one overlook my kid?!

    All the coaches at FBU said he is a diamond in the rough. They also told me if I continued to send him to all the FBU camps and clinics that he was almost guaranteed an NFL contract. They said that a D1 scholarship was automatic.

    You missed the boat on my kid. He should be in this article. Give credit where it is due. Just wait til next fall when he leads his team to their 6th grade championship! You will regret not writing about him!

  6. Wow says

    This is a little over the top! At least run it on freshman & sophomores who have competed at the HS level. I’ve seen so many 6th, 7th & 8th grade superstars never even play a second of varsity sports cause they were ahead of everyone else in terms of body development and then when everyone caught up or passed them by, they couldn’t compete or quit!
    This truly is the problem with our society!
    “Show Me the Money”, I really hope you are kidding!

  7. ACL says

    @Show Me The Money – Dude, do yourself a favor and stop living through your son before it ruins your relationship with him. Your are spouting off stats from 5th grade football! I am not saying he didn’t accomplish those things and is not a good player but a lot can happen between now and the future. No coach in their right mind would tell you that your 5th grader is an automatic D1 signee and a future NFL player. Come back to reality.

  8. says

    This article is a absolute joke!!!!!!!!! These kids have teammates that at a young age are not even mentioned. All this is doing is letting parents gloat even more then they do already about their kids success against competition that is still learning the basic fundamentals. As for Mr. Clown bragging about his kids stats he needs to get real and real quick. Does he know how many kids dominated youth football leagues that never even sniffed a HS roster. Hundreds!!!!! I played with kids like that pal. I scored every other time I touched the ball in youth football and all I did was start 2 years of varsity and play a little college and it wasn’t D1. Youth football coaches are coaching Youth football for a reason and the reason is they know NOTHING but the bare minimum to coach. Forget about breaking down a game and evaluating talent to every minute detail half these guys think “throw the ball deep” is the actual name of a play. You my friend have never played a down of football just by your post. Do you think Archie Manning would post such a arrogant ridiculous statement like that? NEVER!!! So what your kid didn’t get on this list that is probably made up of parents that were the highest bidders. When you have real talent that can’t be ignored other people talk for you and you will never be overlooked ever. I hope you don’t feed your kid that crap because if he plays for a coach worth anything and has your attitude he wont be doing much playing idc how good he is. Lets make the freshman team and do some damage in a varsity game if he even gets there before you start acting like your spawn is Johnny Manziel. Thank God for your kid’s sake you didn’t put your name!!!!!!! Smarten up pal and let your kids actions on the field when it matters do the talking not against kids that trip over their feet when they run. D1 lock???? That coach has never played a down of football and I guarantee he learned the game off the internet like half the jokers that coach youth football. D1 lock my god get a clue

    • Youth coach says

      Your take on youth football coaches can be said about a lot of high school coaches. Shelton has a youth coach that was the head coach of a few high schools along with many other youth coaches.

  9. says

    There is one person in the town who should be running the youth program or at least dictate what type of offense and Defense will ben run. That’s the head coach of the High School period and if any one disagrees please enlighten me on how kids running the same plays, schemes, stunts, blitzes, formation, etc…… is not the correct way. If the youth coach doesn’t buy into it then he needs to get his walking papers quickly. There is nothing worse then some clown who is usually a parent with a agenda bad mouthing the head coach all over town about how he could do this better and that better meanwhile the mope got cracked blocked on day 1 of pads freshman year and pooped his little panties never to step on the field again. There is one in every town and the quicker he goes the better off the squad is. The kids that play in youth can’t wait to get to the HS and play for the Head Coach when a program is run like that. They will work as hard as needed to be as good or better then the varsity player they watch religiously every week that plays the same position as they do. If the program is run like it should they end up idolizing a kid that does all the right actions to succeed. It eventually runs itself like clockwork if everyone buys into it but it’s detractors have no place in it. Bad Apples no matter how good they are need to go gone goodbye. Depending on the severity of their incident a second chance maybe warranted if a freshman or sophomore but upperclassmen are held in high regard and should set an example for the younger players. This is how a winning program is run ans accomplished. Sure you will lose some kids to the privates possibly if they have a strong presents in the area and your program isn’t up to par but last time I checked Daniel Hand does have that problem. How many kids come up through the Madison Youth Program and take off for Xavier or ND-WH? They sure aren’t dropping down in competition to go to one of those boarding school or the Hamden Hall\Hopkins’s of the world. They will get just as good if not better education at Hand and the competition they will go up against is well lets be honest the JV teams of some of their SCC opponents would to put it delicately have their way with those prep/boarding schools. The best Hamden Hall/Hopkins combined all Star team would lose to most Hand teams 35-7, 42-13 and thats if they score at all. Feel free to educate me on the football prowess of the array of talent that is the almighty YOUTH HEAD COACH because where i’m sitting it looks like a few jokers that have run amok on the info they bought of http://www.coach2thetop.com

  10. says

    As a side note I did not know of a actual website coach2thetop.com nor do I have a opinion positive or negative concerning it. I do not endorse the site as of this moment but If it were to say gain substancial coverage as a result of this blog then there may need to be a discussion with Myself and the fellow bloggers that started this initial blog(I’m not greedy!!!!! I make sure everyone gets a piece) as to proper compensation. I cannot speak for the Register but I’m sure they will have their greasy little hands in the cookie jar but they will have to wait their turn as we bloggers like the town with the great youth program make everything go.

  11. says

    Wow I am surprised at the reaction to this article. My son is Douglas Harrison III , The first one written about in this article. I can understand that predicting a kid is going to play D1 college ball or better is a stretch and can be seen as setting them up for failure. All I can say to this , is in our case my son truly loves to play the game and he has excelled at every level so far ,including regional play for F.B.U and Nationally in the Eastbay All American youth game. My son has lead this interest on every level, meaning we don’t pressure him to do ANYTHING. He has trained privately this year and attended football camps to get better, he umpires baseball games to earn extra money for his training costs and makes huge sacrifices in order to get better because this is what he wants. He works so hard at football and other sports because he loves every minute of it. So when the accolades come, like this article and him being named Branford’s first Youth all american, Its hard to not get excited and be proud. He has worked hard for every accolade so far. If football helps him to gain some opportunities for a better education, high school and beyond , then we will pursue the opportunities given to him because he deserves it. Parenting your kid is the most important thing in all of this. Douglas happens to be a great kid who is grounded and humble and does his best to keep the important things in his life first, Like his family and doing what he is asked to do at home. We will always instill in Douglas that football or any other sport may not work out for him and that education is most important. Having plan B and plan C, will always be a part of what we teach him. We’ve heard the D1 talk and all the things people say when your kid is a stand out. For us It’s one day at a time and it’s what we as parents teach him that supersedes anything he’s gonna learn on the field. I hope and pray Football takes him where he wants to go, but in any case I know he’s going to be ok, He’s got a fantastic Mother and a ton of family support to help him get to wherever he ends up.

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