ELDRIDGE — Tony Barreca took a school trip to Washington, D.C. in the seventh grade. He toured the memorials and monuments, soaked up the history.
Barreca never envisioned he would eventually live in the nation's capital.
But after impressing the Georgetown coaching staff at a two-day baseball camp in August, a relationship was formed.
The North Scott senior signed a national letter of intent Tuesday to continue his career with the Hoyas starting next fall.
"The campus tour was absolutely beautiful, I fell in love with their campus, fell in love with the field and new locker room as well," Barreca said. "I knew the reputation it had as a Division I program, and D.C. is a great place to explore."
With its high academic standards, Georgetown has an acceptance rate of about 16 percent.
Barreca has a 3.91 grade-point average and an ACT score of 29.
"I probably wouldn't have gotten in if I wasn't playing baseball," he said. "It's one of the top (academic) schools in the country, just below the Ivy League schools."
The catcher has flourished on the diamond for the Lancers.
He batted .397 with 22 stolen bases as a sophomore. This past summer, he hit .379 with 18 extra-base hits, 34 RBIs and 19 stolen bases.
"I need to develop the power aspect," he said. "I'm not your prototypical catcher. I usually bat first or second and steal bases."
More than his offensive production, Barreca has thrived behind the plate.
At the age of 12, playing for the North Scott Nitro, Barreca became intrigued with catching.
"I threw a kid out stealing second and it was an aha moment," he said. "That was awesome, and it felt different. I knew I wanted to catch."
He watched YouTube videos of St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina.
At 14, he started taking lessons from former Rockridge standout Tyson Blaser. He also received assistance from Quad-Cities product and former Iowa catcher Trevor Kenyon about the intricacies of catching.
"(Blaser) taught me virtually everything I know now," Barreca said. "I've been fortunate to have him and Trevor in my life to teach me a lot."
North Scott's staff has plenty of trust in Barreca. They allow him to call all the pitches, a rarity at the high school level.
"I take a lot of pride in my defensive capabilities," he said. "It is a lot of communication with the coaching staff, our pitchers and having a strong knowledge on (opposing) hitters. Calling a game is part of the fun."
Barreca had interest from several Ohio Valley programs along with Western Illinois, a couple Division II schools and explored the junior college route.
Even though Georgetown is more than 800 miles from home, the opportunity was too good to refuse. The Hoyas are a member of the Big East Conference and coming off a 27-28 season.
"During the process of my recruiting, I never had a boundary restriction," he said. "I'm not sure if my parents did.
"Coming from 800 people in Long Grove to many more times that in D.C., it is going to be a big change. It'll be interesting but fun."