KINGMAN - U.S. Youth Soccer keeps calling Gabriel Otero's name. And he continues to answer those calls.
After playing for Arizona "Blue" at the 2016 Region IV tournament against teams from the 15 states within Region IV in January and participating in a sub-regional camp earlier this month in Flagstaff, Otero has been selected for the U.S. Youth Soccer 2003 Region IV ODP camp June 30 -July 4 at the University of Idaho in Moscow.
"I was pretty happy when my dad told me," Otero said.
He began working his way toward a spot on a national team almost a year ago back in August. He's been to many camps, training sessions and has played multiple matches to get this far.
The camp in Idaho gives Otero "the opportunity to be selected to play for and represent Region IV at our regional and international events," according to U.S. Youth Soccer Region IV.
There are only four regions in U.S. Youth Soccer, and Otero has the golden opportunity to be on one of those teams. He'll be training and competing for spots with players of the highest level, which is the "elite" level.
And though the stakes are getting higher for him, Otero appears to be more relaxed about the process at this stage than when he was competing for a state spot in December.
"I was less worried about making it (to the camp)," he said. "They selected kids from the tournament, but now I'm even with them."
Arizona "Red" won the Region IV tournament in Phoenix, and eight players from that squad were preselected for the upcoming camp. Approximately 50 to 60 players are expected and most, like Otero, had to get through a sub-regional camp to get there.
Otero prefers to play the attacking midfielder or left wing positions on the pitch. The staff for Region IV will evaluate whether Otero possesses, and if so how much, the soccer player components of technique, tactics, fitness and athletic ability, and psychological component (attitude) when making their decision.
A favorable evaluation for Otero would make him eligible for national camps and international events. It is at these functions when he would be observed, trained and identified for placement in the national pool or on a national team.
An added benefit to Otero's rise through the ranks is the education his father, Gabe Otero, has received. He's going to be the new boys soccer coach at Lee Williams High and has been instrumental in his son's soccer growth.
"I'm doing everything I can to educate myself to coach these kids," Gabe said. "But now it's me asking what he's learned when he's at these camps. The student is becoming the teacher."