- April 11, 2023
Mother Nature kicked off the annual Florida East Coast Senior All-Star Classic with a 60-minute heavy rain and lightning delay at the Daytona State College soccer stadium on Thursday, April 13.
Two teams, each consisting of 22 coach-nominated high school seniors, eventually took the field. With 12:28 remaining in the first half and a tie score of 0-0, lightning prevailed and abruptly ended the battle.
“Mother Nature 2, All-Stars 0,” event creator Reg Monsanto joked.
Monsanto started the college showcase because the state all-star game had traditionally been held five to seven hours away. Logistically, it made it tough for local area soccer players to participate. He decided to launch one for Flagler and Volusia County high schools at the Indian Trails Sports Complex in Palm Coast. Eventually, it outgrew the space and wound up at Matanzas High School where Monsanto is currently an assistant soccer coach.
He jumped at the chance to move the game to a college field when DSC’s soccer coach invited him to hold the game at the Falcons' facility.
“The environment is good for these kids,” Monsanto said. “It’s a regulation size field compared with high school. For some of them, it’s the last time they will play in an environment like this and for others, it’s a showcase. College coaches are coming to watch.”
DSC president Tom LoBasso said when they built the facility it was meant to be used to host special community events in addition to the college’s sporting events and gatherings. His son Tommy LoBasso played in the All-Star game.
“I wanted to finish the game,” the University senior said. “It was a good game. You just adapt to the differences and just see how they play during the game and go with the flow.”
For two years, the Inter-United Soccer Club of Palm Coast has sponsored and participated in the event by having a group of its young players walk out with the all-stars onto the field in a pregame ceremony that is traditionally performed at international soccer matches.
Jim and Jennie Powell founded the club in Apopka in 1997 with the intention of bringing soccer culture to, at that time, a predominantly football and baseball oriented town. Five years in, the club grew to over 2,000 kids. The Powells moved to Palm Coast after their children had gone to college, and two years ago they started the club.
“My grandkids followed me over to Palm Coast,” he said. “When I saw my grandkids coming into it, I just wanted to create that culture my family had. That’s kind of how I decided.”
Powell is an assistant soccer coach at Matanzas with Monsanto who is on Inter-United’s board. Both of them believe soccer is a family affair. Monsanto’s son, Nathan, coaches at Stetson University, while his other son, Nick, coaches at Bolles High School, and his dad still refs at the age of 81.
“Soccer is like another language, literally, that we can utilize around the world,” Jim Powell said.