Boys Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Alex Carbonelli, East Lake
Alex Carbonelli readily admits he’s competitive — whether it’s in the classroom, on the soccer field or even in his own family.
While at East Lake High School, he only received two B’s — in freshman English 2 and Spanish 5. And he is quick to point out that those were both 89s, one point short of an A.
“I’ve tried to never settle for a B,’’ Carbonelli said. “But some teachers just don’t budge.’’
As a four-year member of the East Lake soccer team, he played for teams that won district and region championships. He was the central defender on this past winter’s team and was crucial in the Eagles’ run to the Class 5A state semifinal. He also played club soccer for West Florida Premier, coached by East Lake’s Alex Stenson.
And when it came to picking a college, he took that as a challenge as well. With an older sister and brother at Florida and Florida State, respectively, Carbonelli figured he had to aim higher and got accepted to Duke.
“Couldn’t let them go to a better school than me,’’ he said.
That kind of competitiveness and discipline is what made Carbonelli the Tampa Bay Times’ boys Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
An average school day for Carbonelli started at six a.m. He would take classes, which included advanced placement, until noon before heading to an internship at the Florida Hospital of North Pinellas. From 4 to 6 p.m. he went to the gym, then to soccer practice during the season. That left a few hours to study before calling it a night around 11.
Now that school is out, he works at Countryside Country Club during the week and Home Port Marina in Dunedin on the weekends.
Carbonelli will leave for Duke in August. He said he will likely try out for the soccer team, but he’s realistic about his chances.
“I’m hoping to make the practice squad,” he said. “That’s a Division I school with some really good athletes. But if I can make the practice squad and stay in shape I’ll be fine with that.”
He plans to focus on business, and will try to double major in finance and accounting. And he is also looking forward to being a full-time student.
At Duke, that means being a Cameron Crazy basketball fan. Carbonelli said he’s all in.
“Oh yeah, I’ll be painting my face blue and white,” he said. “Can’t wait.”
About Alex Carbonelli
Unweighted GPA: 3.96
Standardized test score: 35 ACT
College: Duke (academic scholarship)
Proudest academic accomplishment: Getting accepted to Duke. “My family made a big deal when my sister got accepted to Florida and when my brother got accepted to Florida State. So I thought going to Duke and getting out of state was the best thing I could do. I got accepted in December and then it was all about finding the money to get there. I got a really good scholarship and that took care of that. I can’t wait to get there.”
Proudest athletic accomplishment: Playing in the region and state semifinals. “The (region semifinal) against Steinbrenner was amazing. We had already lost to them in the district tournament and then we went up 3-1 before they came back and tied it. Then for us to win in overtime was amazing. And in the state (semifinal against Boca Raton) we were down by two goals and only had 10 players and we still came back and tied it. There were so many people watching that game (which East Lake lost in penalty kicks). I’ll never forget it. There’s no better feeling than playing for your school. Playing for that name on the jersey and having people watch you. That’s why I chose high school soccer over club soccer my final year.”
Did you know? Carbonelli interned at Florida Hospital of North Pinellas because he thought he would study pre-med at Duke. He changed his mind after a few weeks at the hospital. “I saw some stuff that I thought would be cool, but it actually turned me away from it,” he said. …Carbonelli was the student government class president as a senior, National English Honor Society historian, and he volunteered on a horse farm that specialized in therapeutic development for mentally challenged children.
With unweighted and weighted grade-point averages:
Brad Deppermann, East Lake (3.68/4.37): Pinellas County’s baseball player of the year, who helped guide the Eagles to the Class 7A state final, took AP and honors courses and was in the school’s engineering program all four years. He will attend North Florida on a baseball scholarship.
Kyle Don, Calvary Christian (3.98/4.5): The AP scholar with distinction suffered knee injuries in his sophomore and junior seasons, but returned to play football his senior year. Don also participated in school musicals, scored 32 on the ACT and logged 550 hours of community service. He will be part of the honors college at the University of South Carolina.
Jared Hayduke, Seminole (4.0/4.77): An accomplished cross country runner, Hayduke was Seminole’s salutatorian and took numerous honors and AP courses. He scored 33 on the ACT and 1950 on the SAT, and is enrolled at UCF.
James Flint, Brandon (3.66/5.11): Flint overcame a torn meniscus to notch his fourth state title and finish his senior season undefeated for Brandon’s nationally ranked wrestling team. The National History Honor Society member will attend Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky on an athletic scholarship.
David Graniero, Gulf (4.0/4.79): Gulf’s co-valedictorian played soccer and golf for the Buccaneers. He scored 34 on the ACT and will attend Florida on National Merit and UF Presidential academic scholarships.
John Morris, Plant (3.8/6.1): The accomplished soccer and lacrosse player took a plethora of AP and honors courses. Morris, who scored 2040 on his SAT, will attend the University of Florida and major in engineering.
Andrew Murphy, Clearwater Central Catholic (4.0/4.50): The salutatorian took eight AP and 20 honors courses while playing varsity baseball and basketball four years. A member of several national honor societies, Murphy will attend Florida and study pre-med.
Mitch Palm, Indian Rocks Christian (3.97/4.58): Palm was one of the Golden Eagles’ top pitchers and a third baseman, and has already earned his AA degree from St. Petersburg College. Palm, who scored 2060 on the SAT and 29 on the ACT, will attend the University of Florida.
Achintya Patel, Land O’Lakes (3.8/4.4): The International Baccalaureate student was a two-sport athlete (golf and tennis) and made the high honor roll throughout high school. The National and Spanish Honor Society member, who scored 33 on the ACT, will attend USF’s honors college.
Taylor Uselis, Palm Harbor University (4.0/4.78): Uselis was part of the Hurricanes’ 400 free relay swim team that won a state championship, and he placed second in the 200 and 500 free. A National Honor Society member who scored 2030 on the SAT, he will attend the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
Anthony Walker, Clearwater Central Catholic (4.0/4.54): The class valedictorian and AP scholar was a two-year starter on the offensive line for the Marauders, and also played basketball and baseball. He will attend the University of Florida.
Garrett Watson, Newsome (3.9/6.8): The four-year varsity tennis player also ran cross country for two years. The national AP scholar and school’s outstanding senior in science will attend MIT and major in electrical engineering and computer science.
Keith Weisenberg, Osceola (3.9/4.6): The Times’ Pinellas County Pitcher of the Year took numerous AP and honors courses, and scored 1970 on the SAT and 29 on the ACT. Though he was a late-round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, he will attend Stanford on a baseball scholarship.
Steven Winesett, Canterbury (3.95/4.46): The three-sport athlete (baseball, golf and basketball) and AP scholar with honor scored 30 on the ACT. He earned a Bright Futures scholarship to the University of Florida, where he will major in biology.
Academy at the Lakes: Alex Burnham; Brandon: Allen Lewis; Countryside: Donald Wasoff; East Lake: Ryan Hall; Gulf: Domenic Crisafulli; Hernando Christian: Brielle Manuel; Hudson: Cody Kimble; Land O’Lakes: Carlos Osorno; Northside Christian: Max Massengill, Troy Hicks; Osecola: Brandon Rivera; Palm Harbor University: Phil Mackie; Plant: Christian Chambers; River Ridge: Corey Smith; Seminole: Garrett Connell; Wesley Chapel: Ethan Taylor