Grabowski brings gritty play to Elmwood Park varsity
Elmwood Park, 10/06/12 Elmwood Park's Aleks Grabowski competes with Willowbrook's Ben Draus for possession of the ball during their match in Elmwood Park October 6, 2012. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 12, 2012 10:55AM
ELMWOOD PARK — Elmwood Park sophomore Aleks Grabowski simply doesn’t have much to say.
“I haven’t been able to get five words out of him all year,” Tigers soccer coach Marty Blake said.
Luckily for Blake and the Tigers, Grabowski’ s play on the field speaks volumes. As a central defender for Blake over the past two seasons, Grabowski has shown Blake all he needs to see for the coach to pin this accolade on him:
“I would say that in the last two years, only about 10 percent of his touches do not find our feet. He rarely makes a bad touch. His touch is the best I’ve seen in the conference,” Blake said. “He stops, he sweeps, he has played on the outside. His forte is in the back but no matter where we put him, he’s been one of the best at that spot.”
As one of a handful of Tigers that competes at soccer year-round, Grabowski plays club soccer with one of Illinois’ most highly-touted club teams, the Chicago Magic. The tall, rangy sophomore is in his second season of varsity soccer at Elmwood Park.
“He’s a crucial piece in our defense,” Tigers senior captain Travis Box said of Grabowski. “He was crucial last year as a freshman and he’s blossoming this year. I can see him as a captain his senior year. He leads through example and lately he’s been opening up more to the team.
“He goes a hundred percent and he’s a smart player. He’s quick, he has great touches, his dribbling’s great and his passes are always on target. He just always knows what to do with the ball.”
Grabowski didn’t begin playing soccer in third grade — late, by today’s standards — but he took to it immediately and has excelled. Blake wants to see Grabowski add some muscle to his slender frame, but the sophomore has had no trouble holding his own against juniors and seniors.
“Since third grade I’ve played with older people, so I’m used to playing against them,” Grabowski said.
“I’ve seen a little more aggression out of him this year,” Blake said. “He’s getting a few more fouls called on him per game, which is just the result of good, hard play. And you’ll never see a lack of effort out of him.
“We want to get a couple colleges in here to look at him, maybe as early as the regionals this year, just to get him on the radar. He’s got every tool you need, and he’s fantastic in the classroom as well.”