The Tampa Bay Rowdies this week signed 12-year old fan Cole Eicher to a contract, according to a news release from the team. Eicher, a midfielder on the St. Pete Raiders Youth Soccer Club, has been sidelined since February while undergoing the removal of a brain tumor and radiation treatments while battling cancer.
Rowdies general manager Perry Van Der Beck, along with players Georgi Hristov and Shane Hill, surprised Eicher with his contract Tuesday night at Puryear Park, fulfilling his dream to be a professional soccer player.
"Everybody looks forward to very small milestones and this is something he was definitely looking forward to," said Cole's mother, Laura Eicher. "We didn't tell him what was going on. We just told him his team was out here with a couple Rowdies players that wanted to come meet the team. This is really a huge surprise for him."
Eicher was given a jersey, game shorts, training tops, polo shirt, jacket and rain coat. He also was invited Cole to serve as the team's honorary captain on opening night.
Cole will be on the team bench when the Rowdies take on FC Edmonton on April 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Al Lang Stadium. Tickets are available by calling (877) ROWDIES.