Darlington School’s Soccer Academy held a signing ceremony for 20 of its athletes Friday at Van Es Arena, as the seniors will be continuing their academic and soccer pursuits on the collegiate stage.
“(It’s) ... a huge moment with just kids that I’m super proud of enduring and taking the challenges that the world has thrown at them through no fault of their own,” soccer academy director Chad Liddle said in a phone interview. “They have persevered and dealt with so many uphill challenges. It’s going to be a pretty cool thing to kind of look at from the outside in. I think these are some great fits and I’m super happy they’re going to pursue the game at the next level.”
The following is a list of the student-athletes who signed with a collegiate institution, organized by last name:
Jayden Boswell — University of West Georgia
Kendal Brittingham — Stetson University
Parker Christina — University at Albany
Rayhaan Dharsey — Lees- McCrae College
Axel Funk — Lynn University
Daniel Garvilla — Lees- McCrae College
Joshua Garvilla — Lees- McCrae College
Janet Hartman — University of West Georgia
Jack Krahil — Florida Gulf Coast University
Josh Lynch — Emory University
Dominic Miller — Washington College
Quinn O’Hearn — Saint Francis University
Patrick Shealy — Elon University
Jack Shields — Centre College
Eber Sosa — Young Harris College
Ben Thompson — Eastern University
Oliver Townend — Colgate University
Nathaniel Upson — University of Alabama- Huntsville
Katie Wade — Lees-McCrae College
Harrison Watts — Lees-McCrae College
Liddle started the Darlington Soccer Academy 17 years ago, hoping to provide a club experience where soccer players would get the chance to compete against the best club competition in the United States while also garnering attention from college soccer coaches. The group, described by Liddle as “family-like,” travels to tournaments throughout a normal calendar year from Florida to Nevada.
However, given COVID-19 and its resulting limitations on collegiate visitations, Liddle said the past 11 months had been in one way a challenge, but in another a positive for the athletes.
“It’s been tough this year, but I’m really proud of the way that our kids have battled through the recruiting pitfalls and the recruiting barriers of the COVID-19 world,” Liddle said. “I think we’ve got a very good spectrum of schools kids are going to. This COVID world kind of opened the eyes of some of these young people to look at other aspects of a college and university and what they’re doing for students during this time period.”
The soccer academy will have one more signing day and celebration, currently scheduled for May 14, during which Liddle said he hopes all of the families of both local and international athletes can attend.
“It’s a special time to be able to let the kids have their family members there,” Liddle said.