Another club casualty for high school soccer
If Berkeley Prep's boys soccer team hopes to earn a third consecutive final four berth next season, it apparently will have to do it without top scorer Daniel Felman.
Felman's father, Dave, confirmed to The Tampa Bay Times in a recent e-mail that his son, who led the Buccaneers in goals (22) and assists (14) this past season, will forego his senior to compete with the year-round Clearwater Chargers Academy.
The Chargers are one of the U.S. Soccer Federation's two local Development Academy teams on a 10-month training schedule -- September through June -- that conflicts directly with the high school season. The academy's extended training schedule and participation in elite showcase events generally provides greater exposure to college coaches.
The conflict has had a greater impact on Pinellas County prep rosters, though Hillsborough certainly has felt some ripples. Wharton midfielder Jordan Lue, who enjoyed a promising sophomore season in 2012, bypassed his junior year to play for the Chargers.
Just how deeply the allure of academy soccer will bite into the bay area prep talent base remains unclear. Gaither boys coach Eric Sims, executive director of the sprawling Tampa Bay United club program, remains a proponent of the high school product. So do many of his prep peers.
But with the benefits academy soccer affords (i.e. year-round training, elite competition, greater scholarship chances), few doubt it will continue to tug at the high school talent base.
Question is, will it ultimately become a gravitational pull?