Friday, March 08, 2002

Making all the right moves

By MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

These days, it isn't unusual for a young Canadian soccer player to head overseas seeking fame and fortune. It's a little more unusual when a player is invited back for second look. It really gets serious when that players goes back for yet another try. And when mom gets into the act, travelling overseas to check out living accommodation and school, well, get the pen and paper ready, a contract can't be far away. Tyler Hemming, 16, and his mother, Cheryl Miller, left for England on Wednesday as he is beginning a two-week stint of training and games with the Grimsby Town organization. Hemming, a Grade 11 student at Saunders secondary school, played for London City of the Canadian Professional Soccer League last year. He has impressed Grimsby Town on the several occasions they've seen him play in Canada and England. "Mom has to check things out," Miller said with a laugh. "I know they want him and I would never stand in his way, but he's my baby. We've raised him well and we want to continue having some influence on him during these crucial years. He's a great kid but I thnk he'll be homesick and lonely and we want to make sure he's well looked after." Judging by how much interest Grimsby has shown, they'll take good care of him. And while it may be tough being 17 and a professional soccer player overseas, Hemming likely will get used to it. "Oh yeah, I'm ready," he said. "It's very exciting. This is getting pretty serious. "What I've heard so far is that if they offer me a contract, I'll go back in July, then stay over there for two years. There are still a lot of details to work out." If he comes anywhere near to performing the way he has, Hemming will get a crack at making the organization. He has developed into an exceptionally talented player with an attitude geared to hard work. He's also bright and determined. His mother describes him as a "calm kid, who doesn't react a lot. He fully enjoys all the experiences." Hemming expects he'll play two games with the under-19 youth training team for Grimsby Town. The level above that team is the reserve squad and then there's the First Division team. Hemming has been busy. He played basketball at Saunders and plays on Forest City Volleyball Club's juvenile team, which is headed to the national championship in May in Saskatchewan. Hemming travels to Toronto four times a week for training with other potential national players at the Canadian training centre. Hemming returned recently from a four-game tour of Peru with the under-17 team from the national training centre. "The competition was really tough but it was a great experience," he said. "Not just playing but taking in the culture and playing against another country." There hasn't been a lot of rest for Hemming. "It's been harder, especially this semester when we're getting more school work. I find myself doing homework in the car." It will be busy in England but it's debatable whether he or his mom will carry the heavier load. There will be school and residences to visit and a slew of other details to work out for Miller. "The team has relationships with 12 guest houses where they room and board the kids and it's right near the fields," she said. "They get a little room, meals are provided. We have an appointment to go to Grimsby College. That's their affiliation and they sent us a prospectus. "My concern is that he get his Grade 12. He's got an 88 average on the university stream." The next two weeks will determine much in Hemming's life. But whether he plays professionally or not, he has what appears to be a lot of other talents and a family willing to support him.


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