After earning the regional championship title in a penalty kick win against Naperville North last season, Wheaton Warrenville South soccer players Joe Spera and Michael Stelletello have high aspirations for their final high school season. Both players hope to improve upon last year’s 13-9-2 record and reach the sectional final game in the state playoffs.
Names: Joe Spera and Michael Stelletello
Age/year in school (incoming): 17/Senior (Spera); 16/Senior (Stelletello)
Position: Center back (Spera and Stelletello)
How long have you played soccer? 12 years (Spera and Stelletello)
What do you love most about soccer?
Spera: Working as a team and the challenge of playing 80 minutes against a good team. Soccer gives me a thrill when I make a great play and when we perform well as a team.
Stelletello: I love defending and being able to play and compete alongside friends.
What are your goals for the upcoming season? How will you achieve them?
Spera: I want my team to get to the sectional finals this season. We just have to work hard every single practice and play our hearts out like it is our last game.
Stelletello: I hope that as a team we can go farther in the state playoffs than we did last year, so getting to the sectional final or farther would be huge for us. We plan to achieve [that] by keeping good possession, moving the ball, and finishing our opportunities when they come.
How do you motivate yourself to train during the summer?
Spera: I tore my ACL during the offseason, so getting a chance to begin playing again in September really motivates me. I work out every day and get a lot of touches with the ball.
Stelletello: I have to remind myself that I’ll need to be in great shape in order to stay competitive against the great teams in our area during the season, and if I don’t prepare now then I won’t be able to keep up with them.
Who has inspired you most in your athletic endeavors?
Spera: Derrick Rose. He tore his ACL but never put his head down. He has worked really hard during his rehab and will be better than ever. I want to follow his lead and be better than before my injury.
Stelletello: My former club coach Scott Meineke, who coached me for about four or five years. [He] really taught me how the game works and how to succeed in it.
If you didn’t play soccer, what would you be doing?
Spera: Soccer is my hobby [and] my favorite sport. I play it all of the time and love it. I would be really sad if I didn’t play soccer.
Stelletello: I would probably be playing another sport like basketball or lacrosse.
What’s the best part about summer in Wheaton?
Spera: Offseason training. We have captain practices every week with all of the boys who want to play in the fall. They are all motivated and train hard.
Stelletello: Not having to worry about grades or homework and being able to hang out with friends and go out to eat or to the movies whenever you want.
Who is your favorite athlete and why?
Spera: Lionel Messi. He works harder than any other player. He is short and not very muscular, but he is fantastic because of his ball control and his quick thinking on and off of the ball.
Stelletello: Michael Bradley, who plays soccer for AS Roma and the U.S. Men’s National Team. He’s so comfortable and patient on the ball and he reads and understands the game very well in the midfield.
How do you beat the heat during workouts?
Spera: I never think about how hot it is. I toughen through it and just think about the rewards that will come in the long run.
Stelletello: Get a good breakfast beforehand and stay hydrated before and during the workout.
Favorite quote or words to live by:
Spera: “Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forwards.” – Victor Kiam
Stelletello: “Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” – Vince Lombardi
Profile edited by Lauren Comitor. Local coaches who would like to see an athlete featured in TribLocal should email firstname.lastname@example.org.