Tom Chmela started Hawthorn Woods Elite Soccer Club, a travel team, just last year and already the program is growing and expanding.
Chmela has been involved in Lake Zurich area soccer programs for years. He became involved in coaching soccer when his daughters were growing up. His daughter Haley, a 2010 graduate, was on the school's soccer team.
A Hawthorn Woods resident, Chmela brings to the club his love for the sport of soccer and his experience as a physical education teacher at Evanston Township High School.
Hawthorn Woods Soccer Elite attracts players from throughout the Lake Zurich area — Barrington, Palatine, Libertyville, Buffalo Grove and even as far as Naperville.
“We’re pretty much like a family organization. Our main priority is developing kids, not only on the soccer field, but as people as well … to get them ready for life and college,” Chmela said.
“Part of being an educator is to develop kids that play as a team and have commitment to each other,” Chmela said.
“We also encourage all our kids to play high school soccer. It’s important to give back to the community,” he said.
The club recently added a new affiliated soccer program for youth U7 through U13, which will be coached by Janet and Kyler Albert. Chmela will continue to coach the high school teams.
“We’re taking small steps. We’re not growing too fast. We’re taking our time and doing it the right way,” Chmela said.