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Club History

Blackwatch Soccer Club was founded in Tampa, Florida in the early 1980s. The club was established in order to give every youth in the surrounding Tampa area a chance at playing youth soccer. As the club grew, success followed especially with the girls program.

In 1987, USYSA (United States Youth Soccer Association) began its Regional competitions. Blackwatch Heather, an under 14 girls team, won the first Southern Regional Championship and went onto its first USYSA National Championship. Blackwatch Heather and Blackwatch Thistle brought immediate attention to the club. As Blackwatch Heather was making a name for the club, a boys team was beginning its climb to the top of youth soccer, Blackwatch Keelley.

Under Coach Sherwood DeAmbrose, the Keelley collected over 450 wins and lost under 50 matches in a seven year period. In the same year of the Heather, Keelley also captured its first Southern Regional Championship (1987).

The Heather and Keelley brought national recognition to the club, and continued its success into the 1990s. The Heather, which left the club in 1992 over philosophical differences, won its third USYSA National Title as a U-20 team. They have been mentioned as one of the best women's team ever assembled by Soccer America.

The Keelley, however, disbanded as an Under 18 team in 1993 after 8 players went onto to play collegiately at Division I schools. Two players of that team are playing professionally now, Steve Freeman for the Worcester Wildfire (USISL-A League) and Mike Mekelburg, an All-American from University of South Florida, is entering the pros this season.

Steve Freeman left Blackwatch Keelley in 1992 after losing to the Dallas Cosmos in the Southern Regional Final in Greensboro, North Carolina 1-0, and enrolled at Hartwick College on a soccer scholarship, NCAA Division I-Independent. Hartwick went onto to finish #12 in the USA Today Final Rankings, and finished 13-4-1 after its first losing season in school history the year before.

Freeman, a starting marking back for the Wick Warriors was one of 6 freshman starters on the team. Its freshman class was one of the top recruiting classes in the entire U.S.

Mike Mekelburg led USF to its first NCAA Tournament bid in the 1990s and the team in goal scoring. Mekelburg set the school's single season scoring record. (Roy Wegerle, Colorado Rapids-MLS) Keelley is still making its mark on the pro ranks.

For more information, please contact Steve Freeman, Head Coach, at Phone: (518) 458-9510.

Author: Piero P. Bonissone E-Mail: bonissone@crd.ge.com

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