Every year the Chargers Soccer Club sends dozens of area high school students to collegiate programs all across the country.
This year was no exception, as the ultra-competitive club had 20 players sign letters of intent at the Safety Harbor Spa and Resort on Wednesday night.
For the many boys and girls who participate in club and high school soccer, the event is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication.
"It's a great feeling to know all these years of hard work have finally paid off," said Hunter Loyden, a St. Pete High student who is headed to Georgia Southern. "It's fantastic to be part of a group that's so serious about making it to the next level."
And while the kids are excited to move on to the next phase of their lives, they also realize the evening marks the end of their years of playing together.
"I've played with these girls since I was 8, and it's bittersweet to know we're all going off to college," said Palm Harbor University's Morgan Lorenti, who signed with the University of Tampa. "We're like a big family. We were really close this year."
The Chargers program has now sent more than 750 players to the college level since 1972, including more than 60 over the last three years.
For the coaches, those stats represent an affirmation they are doing something right.
"I've been with the club for almost 25 years now and winning is a priority, but it's not the end all," Under-18 girls elite coach Siggi Nagele said. "We try to teach them life skills that are going to help them in the next phase of their careers."
"The Chargers do things the right way," he added. "We're not the biggest, we don't have the most trophies in the trophy case. But we consistently put 20-25 kids in college every year. I think that says a lot."
Here is a list of the area players who signed, including their high school and college they will be attending:
U-18 BOYS:Name High School College Jessie Caron Palm Harbor U. Boston University Drew Corcoran Freedom Erskine or Wofford Nicholas Day Countryside University of Tampa Jeffrey George Countryside East Tennessee State University David Gray East Lake Liberty University David Kuckkahn Countryside Rollins College Cameron Thomas Countryside University of South Florida Hunter Loyden St. Petersburg Georgia Southern University
U-18 GIRLS:Name High School College Annie Barrett Bloomingdale Mercer University Amber Coca Bloomingdale Wagner College Brittany Coca Bloomingdale Belmont University Kristy Legoas East Lake Florida Southern College Morgan Lorenti Palm Harbor U. University of Tampa Eleni Mavres Clearwater Maryville College Karina White East Lake Palm Beach Atlantic