Orlando City’s Jamie Watson, Rob Valentino and Luke Boden are no strangers to winning championships and receiving awards, but this past Friday the three first-team players visited Hunters Creek Middle School (HCMS) to congratulate the boys’ soccer team on winning their first ever Orange County Middle School Soccer Championship. In anticipation of the players’ arrival, the students at HCMS decorated the school with posters, purple and red balloons and provided a warm reception for the players as they made their way into the gymnasium.
“HCMS embodies what school spirit should be and the students made us feel so welcomed,” said Watson. “They showed unbelievable school spirit for their soccer team, for us, but most importantly for each other. It was so rewarding to see a group of young adults treating each other with so much respect. Definitely one of the best schools I've ever attended!”
In addition to honoring the soccer team, the players also spent time addressing topics that are essential for athletes and students in general. Jamie Watson spoke to the students about healthy eating, followed by Boden who shed light on what it takes to become a professional, and Valentino concluded the event by kicking off his anti-bullying campaign.
Similar to several of the other players on the team, Valentino is active in the community and has adopted an anti-bullying campaign as a part of his player cause. The 2011 USL PRO Defender of the Year is certainly viewed by his counterparts as a strong physical presence on the pitch, but is quite the opposite off the field. Valentino shared stories with the students about being bullied as a child and the impact it has on an individual.
“I had a great time at Hunters Creek Middle School congratulating the soccer team on their recent championship,” said Valentino. “I was overwhelmed by the reception we received, they all take a lot of pride in their school, and I was glad to be a part of the special day for the soccer team.”