Mike Baumann, one of Central's leading scorers, has transferred to Springstead and hopes to play for the Eagles in the postseason pending an eligibility review.
The senior scored three goals in his last game for Central on Jan. 16, and on Jan. 20 he was enrolled at Springstead. According to his father, Mike Baumann Sr., it was a move he tried to make at the start of the semester but was told by the school board he could not.
The Baumanns are building a house one block from Springstead and are living with relatives in Timber Pines until it is completed. That neighborhood is in the Springstead zone, which allowed Baumann to switch schools.
Whether or not he will be allowed to switch teams remains to be seen. Florida High School Athletic Association bylaws allow a student to transfer and be eligible for athletics on the sixth day after his or her enrollment, provided the student lived with the same family member for a full year.
Mike Baumann Sr. said the family rented a house for seven months before the current temporary arrangement and before that owned a house in another development. Both of those dwellings were in the Central zone. Baumann had attended Central since his freshman year.
Springstead athletic director Bob Levija said the eligibility review could be completed within a day or two. Boys soccer begins district play Monday.
"My son has been wanting to go to Springstead for many, many years because the team that's at Springstead is his club team (Hernando Heat) that he's been playing with since he was 8 years old," Baumann Sr. said. "He knows that team is probably going to go to, like, the state finals. He would like the most exposure that he can possibly get for recruiting and everything else."
Springstead is 14-1-2 and a No. 2 seed in Class 4A, District 9, behind 17-0-1 Lecanto. Central was 9-8-1 through last Friday and is the No. 4 seed in the same district.
"I really don't care, but I expect that a lot of other teams would be rightfully upset," said Central coach Jerry Bon, who first heard of the move from other Bears players and found Baumann's uniform in his mailbox.
Baumann Sr. said there was no prior contact between Baumann and Springstead coach Sal Calabrese about a move. Calabrese said if Baumann was eligible, he would allow him to play.
"I wouldn't have any reservations about it. I don't think he's going to sabotage my team," Calabrese said. "But he just can't come on the field and say, "Here I am.' That's not right to my other players."
_ John Schwarb can be reached at (800) 333-7505, ext. 1407. Send e-mail to schwarbsptimes.com.