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Latrobe freshman selected to USA Football event

| Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Incoming Latrobe freshman Iven Etienne will participate in USA Football's National Team Development Games July 21-26 in Towson, Md.

Etienne will be one of more than 180 incoming freshmen and sophomores competing for the opportunity to be selected to the U.S. National Team that will play Canada in the 2015 International Bowl in February in Dallas.

Etienne applied for the program in April and said he was ecstatic to find out he was accepted. He jumped at the opportunity to hone his skills under the tutelage of top coaches in the country.

“I just wanted to apply so I could compete and see if I can make the team,” Etienne said. “You get to compete against some of the best kids in the country and you get coached by college coaches and the best high school coaches.”

As an eighth grader, Etienne played running back for Latrobe Middle School where in just four games he rushed for more than 400 yards, scored eight touchdowns on the ground and had one receiving touchdown.

“I want to get some exposure as early as I can,” Etienne said. “I want to go on to play college football some day.

“There are a lot of good players in this area, so I think it'll help me get noticed so I can play college football.”

The U.S. National Development Games are a program developed for the best young athletes in the country to gain early collegiate exposure and develop fundamental skills in seven-on-seven tournaments, a jamboree and full games.

Players also will receive education about USA Football's Heads Up Football player health and how to properly fit equipment, concussion awareness, heat preparedness, proper hydration and the proper mechanics of tackling.

Preparing for the upcoming season has been a year round task for Etienne, he said. He's work diligently in the gym to put on size and increase his speed to be a consistent contributor to Latrobe's freshman program this year.

“I lift three times a week and have really been working on my speed pretty hard,” he said. “I want to be in the best shape possible this year.”

Etienne is expected to come in and contribute early for the Wildcats. An unblemished season is something he's hoping he can help Latrobe achieve this year.

“For the season, last year, we thought we could have went undefeated but we didn't,” he said. “So this year the goal is to stay undefeated and earn the respect of the community.”

Latrobe freshman coach Bob Armstrong hasn't met with Etienne specifically about his role as an incoming freshman, but said he is excited to have him on his squad this year.

“I'm excited to have him joining us this year,” Armstrong said. “He's a good teammate and he's got a lot of talent.”

Etienne's experience this week could be a launching pad for his high school career and could serve as a gateway for other local talent in the WPIAL.

Brian Graham is a freelance writer.

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