MERIDEN — Yavier Carbó-Colon has a trip of a lifetime planned for next summer.
The 17-year-old Meriden resident will be suiting up for Puerto Rico's U19 national lacrosse team, which will compete in Limerick, Ireland at the U19 Men's World Championships from July 9-18.
The Xavier High School senior found out he made the team last week after competing in a tryout in Mount Laurel, N.J. last month.
It was one of two tryouts held for the team (the other was held in Florida). There were 45 players at each event and Carbó-Colon was one of the 30 selected.
“It means the world to me,” Carbó-Colon said Wednesday. “I’m representing my country where I was born and I want to help spread the game around Puerto Rico.”
Carbó-Colon moved from Puerto Rico to Connecticut when he was a year old. He started his lacrosse career with Meriden United as a fifth grader under coach Weve Valery, now the Middletown High School varsity lacrosse coach, and he instantly fell in love with the sport.
Shawn Mowry, the head coach of the U19 Puerto Rico National Team, said it was a huge accomplishment for Carbó-Colon to be selected after competitive tryouts.
“Yavier fits in well as a strong all-around player and a good field IQ,” Mowry said. “In addition to being smart on the field, he’s fundamentally strong. We are excited to have him. He’s going to contribute well in the midfield, which is likely going to be one of the strengths of our team.”
The U19 Men’s World Championships have been held every four years since 1988. The United States has won the title each year.
Team Puerto Rico features 30 athletes from all over U.S. Carbó-Colon was the only athlete from New England selected to the team.
“We are all in shock,” Yavier’s mother Benjieana said. “There was a lot of kids and a lot of them were really good. For him to be chosen, is a great accomplishment. Coach Weve was the one who let us know about these tryouts. He told Yavier to give it a try.”
Valery said he was told about the Team Puerto Rico tryouts by another parent and immediately told Yavier’s mother about it.
“The first time I met Yavier is when I coached him in youth football,” Valery said. “When I started [Meriden United], he was just hanging around at the field. I told him ‘You should be out here.’ He got a stick and he’s fell in love with it since and he’s developed into a decent lacrosse player. He’s always driven to improve and it’s been an exciting journey for him.”
Carbó-Colon, the son of Javier and Benjieana, is also a standout swimmer at Xavier. He was a part of a Class L state champion relay in the 200-yard medley last winter. He also placed sixth in the SCC in the butterfly.
Carbó-Colon got the word he made the Puerto Rican national team while he was with his club swim team in MIddletown.
“It means so much," Carbó-Colon said. “I never thought I would do something like this and represent my country. I went to the tryouts and I knew these kids were legit. I wasn’t confident I would make the team, but I worked hard to get a spot on the roster. I’m going represent Puerto Rico and I’m going do anything I can to help the team win.”
Valery, who is a Meriden resident, said Carbó-Colon’s No. 1 strength is his endurance.
“He’s a hard worker and is committed to the sport,” Valery said. “He has strength and drive and he’s a sponge that will absorb anything. He will always find a field and practice and practice until he gets it right.”
Carbó-Colon has exclusively played JV lacrosse in his first three years at Xavier. He said it was tough to crack the 2019 varsity roster with 19 seniors on the team last spring.
Mowry said the team will likely have three practices before heading to Ireland. Potentially, one in Florida in January, in the Philadelphia area over Memorial Day weekend and in June in Puerto Rico.
Twenty countries have committed to compete in Ireland next summer: Puerto Rico, the United States, Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Taiwan,, Czech Republic, England, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Iroquois Nationals, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, South Korea, The Netherlands and Wales.
This is Puerto Rico’s first U19 National Team since being founded in 2016.
“We are spreading the game of lacrosse,” Mowry said. “More than half of the team is new to our organization. This is the most new faces that I’ve seen. Every time we have an event, more and more people want to get involved. The sport is growing at a rapid pace worldwide.”
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