For serious girls soccer players in Highlands County, the opportunity to play competitive soccer on an extended basis has been noticeably absent. That is about to change, however, as the Highlands Soccer Club will be forming the first competitive girls U-18 squad.
"There's nothing under U-15 now, unless you want to go to Lake Wales, Auburndale or Bartow " said assistant coach Carlos Moran.
The team will be holding tryouts on Tuesday, May 28, at the Highlands County Sports Complex between 5:30 and 8 p.m.
"We're hoping for a good turnout," said head coach Jessica Bloemsma. "All of Highlands County is invited."
Bloemsma said the initial response has been great, with players from both Avon Park and Lake Placid expressing interest and she expected most of the returning Sebring High School soccer team will go through the tryout process.
Bloemsma said the season will begin in August and continue up until the start of the high school season.
"This will help keep players ready for the high school season," she said.
Once the high school season is over, the team will resume play.
"There's a bigger commitment with the team," Bloemsma said.
The team will do some traveling, playing in Tampa, Naples, Orlando and throughout the state, which will give players who want to play in college the opportunity to seen by more college coaches and recruiters, who are more likely to attend tournaments than they are individual school games.
"There's definitely more exposure for the players," Bloemsma said.
The soccer club had played in a recreation league and did extremely well, but needed a bigger challenge for the players, which the team should provide.
All three local girls high school coaches, Richie Birdsall, John Merlo and Chris Sbato, have said that it's difficult for their teams to match-up against schools which have players who play on a year-round basis and were hopeful this would be the first step in helping to level the playing field.
For more information on the team or the tryouts, call Bloemsma at 446-1451 or Moran at 257-2295.