Stevens, Chapman earn soccer invites to festival in Maui   

By Wes Holtsclaw
star staff

  Technically, Ashton Stevens and Eric Chapman will be playing on American soil next week. It will just have an international feel to it.
  Stevens and Chapman, future fifth graders at Harold McCormick and Hunter, respectively, have been selected to participate against a slew of foreign competition in the Hawaii's Maui Tropical Sports Festival.
  There is only one American team for their age group, Team USA Inferno, and of the participating athletes, Elizabethton is the only town with two representatives.
  "It makes Elizabethton look good," said Stevens on Thursday.
  Sports Tours USA is the company that endorses the event, among others for 12 sports in eight other countries.
  Both of the youngsters play for the Elizabethton Soccer Association youth league at the Doe River Gorge, where they were discovered by a scouting agency.
  According to Stevens' mother, Debbie Stevens-LeVeau, a lot of kids got an invitation, but didn't pursue it. It was a tough process once receiving a preliminary invitation.
  Both youngsters attended a large meeting in Knoxville, where they had an informal interview and had to present copies of grade cards and a letter endorsing good conduct from their principals.
  Things turned out well for the pair, but the hard work began.
  The trip expenses were $2,910 per person, but through the generosity of several Elizabethton and Johnson City businesses, dreams have been able to come true.
  "They suggest fundraising," said Stevens' mother, Debbie. "We have gotten a lot of good support from sponsors in Elizabethton and Johnson City."
  The tournament itself will begin early next week on the Hawaiian island.
  Teams from Italy and Argentina, among others, are scheduled to participate. Once Ashton and Eric get there, they will undergo instruction and get to have a fun time as well.
  "It's going to be a wonderful experience for him to mingle with kids from other countries," Stevens-LeVeau said. "It will be a challenge for him."
  Aside from the soccer matches, which take begin on the third day of the trip, the duo's Inferno group will be combined with members from other teams during sight seeing tours to Hanauma Bay, Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor, Iao Valley Park and Haleakala National Park.
  They will also get fly from Maui to Oahu during the trip.
  An additional bonus to the trip is a $3,000 scholarship drawing which takes place at the end of the week. Each of the participants are also included on a scout list until they are at the collegiate level.
  As for preparation, the pair are ready.
  Ashton's father and former University of North Carolina soccer standout, David LeVeau, coached the duo and three others in the Kingsport Got Milk Tournament.
  Their team, the Explosion, finished third and qualified for a tournament in Las Vegas. They will also compete in another tournament in Knoxville in August.
  Aside from soccer, both Stevens and Chapman are skilled in other sports. Stevens likes basketball, while Chapman played on a local All-Star team in baseball.
  The families wanted to express their thanks to those who helped support their trip.