Marc Bonnaire says he’s interested in a career in physics and astronomy.
But first he’s got other people’s goals to stop.
The recent Fauquier High graduate will play goalkeeper next season at West Virginia University, continuing his long and ardent quest to master a position that may have been passed down through genetics.
The 6-foot-3, 175-pounder has been a goalie since he was 7, and he picked up a lot of the nuances from his father, Fabrice, a goalkeeper in his younger days in Orleans, France.
“My parents said when I was little and there were no goalies (in youth soccer games), I would go back and protect the tiny goals. I had a natural instinct for it. When goalies were added to my age group, I hopped on it right away,” said Bonnaire, 18.
“It’s such a special position. You’re born one or you’re not,” said Fabrice Bonnaire, who was the goalie coach for the Fauquier County Soccer Club (FCSC).
Marc is a unique case of a stellar player who only played one year of varsity soccer for the Falcons, opting instead to play the last two years in the prestigious Virginia Development Academy (VDA) program run by the U.S. Soccer Federation.
He played VDA soccer as a junior, competing against all the best clubs and Major League Soccer academy teams in the East Coast, which helped him develop and get recruited, but kept his skills from being used by his high school team.
Bonnaire’s one FHS varsity season came as a sophomore, when he was an all-Northwestern District second team goalie. He played JV as a freshman, mostly as a midfielder. He was set to play VDA soccer as a senior, but the league was suddenly eliminated in April by the U.S. Soccer Federation over financial concerns.
A Warrenton resident since age 1, Bonnaire began soccer at age 4, initially with Warrenton Youth Soccer Club, then travel soccer with Fauquier County Soccer Club, and later with Virginia Soccer Academy and VDA. He has traveled to Germany, Spain, and Scotland in recent years with VDA and the Olympic Development Program (ODP).
Interestingly, basketball was the sport he played most at Fauquier, playing all his four years there.
A frequent starter, he made varsity as a junior and senior, earning kudos from coach Wayne Brizzi. “Marc was a big part of our team last year,” said Brizzi.”He was a leader and very athletic for us. He had some days he had to miss because of soccer, but always made up any time when he came back.”
Bonnaire had a 24-point game against Harrisonburg and was often assigned to cover the other team’s top offensive weapon. “Great attitude, great work ethic, great young person,“ Brizzi said.
WVU contacted Bonnaire after he played in a tournament in Florida in December 2019. The process led to an official recruiting visit in early February.
Over two days in Morgantown with his dad, Bonnaire was shown around, watched practice, went to dinner with new coach Dan Stratford, goalie coach Nick Noble and some players, slept in the players’ dorm, and was offered a spot on the second day.
Bonnaire said he was also heavily recruited by American University, and was involved with VCU, Lehigh and Mary Washington.
“I describe myself as a goalkeeper with great length. I’ve got a long body with long arms and a good reach. Also, I think that the part of my game that stands out is I have great feet and passing ability,” he said about his dribbling and ball distribution.
Mom Nancy said Bonnaire always had incredible focus. “I remember putting him in a gymnastics class for toddlers when he was 2 years old, and he was the only one who could sit and listen to instructions and then follow them,” she said.
She said Fabrice didn’t try to project his soccer dreams on Marc, or any of their four children. “All of our kids played soccer at some point and to varying degrees of dedication, but it was never imposed,” she said.
Marc said his father taught him so much, like a spatial awareness technique as a team attacks down the wing. “If the ball comes down the wing, put my hand on the near post so I know where I am,” Bonnaire said.
Fabrice said he’s happy to turn his son over to WVU goalie coach Noble, a former MLS goalie. “My job is done. He’s 18, I’ve done my work,” said Fabrice.