Saturday, July 24, 2021

Sports Person of the Week

Romero Never Backed Down from Challenges


Telmo Romero moved from forward to defense while serving as a senior captain for the East Haven boys’ soccer team this fall. Photo courtesy of Telmo Romero

Telmo Romero moved from forward to defense while serving as a senior captain for the East Haven boys’ soccer team this fall. (Photo courtesy of Telmo Romero)

Back in elementary school, Telmo Romero was introduced to soccer by his friend Diego Ortiz. Telmo gave the sport a try and fell in love with it right away. He didn’t know it at the time, but Telmo was taking the first steps on a journey that led him to becoming a senior captain for the East Haven boys’ soccer team this year.

“My freshman year, I didn’t know much about the high school team, but being able to compete was great,” says Telmo, whose friend Diego also played for the Yellowjackets as a senior this fall. “I got my time eventually and was able to step up for the team. It means a lot to be able to set an example for the younger kids who will hopefully be playing varsity in the future.”

Telmo felt beyond honored when he was selected as one of East Haven’s captains for the 2019 campaign. Telmo found that leading the Easties was a rewarding experience.

“I remember my freshman year when all us freshmen were talking about who would one day be captain. It’s a pretty big moment,” Telmo says. “As a captain, off the field I would try to get everyone on the team to make sure they were doing the right thing at school and at home. I like to be positive.”

The biggest challenge that Telmo faced in his senior season was changing positions on the pitch. After primarily playing striker throughout his career, Telmo moved to defense midway through this year out of a team necessity.

“I play striker and was looking forward to playing there this year, but [Head Coach Mike Papantonio] needed me on defense this year. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I learned some new skills and tricks, which made me a better player,” Telmo says. “Going in, I thought I wouldn’t know how to play defense or I wouldn’t have the physicality for it. Most of it was proven wrong as soon as I played in that position.”

Even though he was playing a new position, Telmo used what he had learned from his experience as a forward to his benefit while patrolling the back line.

“I just really had to focus on my positioning. Being in the back, I got to see the big picture,” says Telmo. “When I got the ball, I’d try to send it up. I tried to take the ball up and learned different techniques during the season.”

Coach Papantonio says that Telmo was a great leader for East Haven. Papantonio felt pleased to see Telmo bring both a physical and a vocal presence to the field this season.

“Telmo was a really consistent player all year. He led by example, and he was willing to do whatever it took for the team. He showed his effort in practice and was willing to switch to the back for the second half of the season,” Papantonio says. “Telmo’s got more confidence than most kids on the team. He’s not scared to challenge for balls, and he’s assertive not only in his play, but vocally. We felt comfortable that he was the guy to give support to everyone on the field.”

Telmo says that Coach Papantonio gave him the confidence that he needed to lead the Yellowjackets. In fact, Telmo says that Papantonio gave everyone on the squad a big boost of confidence.

“He would often talk to us, not about wins and losses, but having fun. It gave me a lot of confidence,” Telmo says of Papantonio. “At the end of the year, we were trying new things and trying to make everything out of the game, rather than going out with our heads down.”

Telmo is set to graduate from East Haven High School next year. He that says that he would like to continue his soccer career one way or the other down the road.

“I’ve been looking, and it’s something I want to look into,” says Telmo. “I can play striker or defense wherever I land. I’m just hoping I can go somewhere, and it falls into place.”

PJ Foti covers sports for East Haven and North Branford for Zip06. Email PJ at

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