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, he received only two B's, in freshman English 2 and Spanish 5. And he is quick to point out both were 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.''
In four years, he played for teams that won district and region championships. He was the central defender on this season's Eagles team and was crucial in its run to the Class 5A state semifinals. He also played club soccer for West Florida Premier, coached by East Lake's Alex Stenson.
He took picking a college as a challenge as well. With an older sister and brother at Florida and Florida State, respectively, Carbonelli figured he had to aim higher. He got accepted to Duke.
"Couldn't let them go to a better school than me,'' he said.
That competitiveness and discipline made Carbonelli the Tampa Bay Times' Boys Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
An average school day for Carbonelli started at 6 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 likely will try out for the soccer team but is realistic about his chances.
"That's a Division I school with some really good athletes," he said. "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 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.
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."
Proudest athletic accomplishment: This season's 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). There's no better feeling than playing for your school; playing for that name on the jersey. 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 believed he would study pre-med. He changed his mind after a few weeks: "I saw some stuff that I thought would be cool, but it actually turned me away from it." … He was the student government class president as a senior, National English Honor Society historian and volunteered on a horse farm that specialized in therapeutic development for mentally challenged children.