Long after his U-15 team finished training, Luc Granitur was still on a mini pitch, kicking a ball back and forth off the fence. Meanwhile, his father was back in the car, sleeping.
Mike Potempa, the co-founder of the Soccer Institute at Montverde Academy and general manager of Orlando City B, invited Granitur to train with the Orlando City Development Academy U-19s.
Better than kicking against a fence, Potempa figured.
“He came in the session, big, bushy hair,” Potempa recalled. “The first few movements I saw, this kid’s interesting to me.”
Granitur draws lots of interest when he’s on the pitch. He’s good with his positioning and has a knack for goal. He trained well enough with the U-19s that he was called up for a game at the end of May.
“He’s our next best forward,” Potempa said. “We don’t care if he’s 15 years old.”
Granitur came on for the last 20 minutes and scored.
He admitted it was tough playing with the U-19s at first. It wasn’t until later that they told him they were being “not nice” to him to test if he was mentally strong enough to play with them.
“The one thing Luc has is the ability to score goals,” said Potempa, who is also the OCDA director. “He’s a hard worker. He’s a very tough kid and he loves to compete and score goals.”
Almost two weeks after his first goal with them, Granitur and the U-19s played Kendall SC in Miami. Granitur started and played 51 minutes, but after a 3-2 loss, Potempa’s postgame talk was stern.
“I was having some strong words with the group,” Potempa said. “Something along the lines of, ‘You just got called into the national team and right now maybe I should call them back and say blah blah blah.”
Granitur was stunned. The heavy feeling lifted off the team as they congratulated their younger teammate. The next day a car went to Granitur’s house to take him to Bradenton, Fla., for the joint U-16, U-17 national team June camp.
Despite joining a couple days late, Granitur played in the second of two friendlies, going 90 minutes and playing “really well,” he said.
Granitur is one of five OCDA Lions -- Jahlane Forbes, Sahyd Nevado-Masso, Edison Azcona and Wilfredo Rivero are the others -- to receive his first national team call-up since the OCDA moved to Montverde in January. There, they are immersed in what Potempa calls Montverde’s “culture of success,” which is predicated on developing well-rounded young adults that can then go on to be first-class professionals.
“[The coaches] care about you as a person first. They make sure we’re good people and I believe when we’re good people, we’re going to be better players,” Granitur said. “We haven’t been here a year yet and I can already see I’ve improved a lot, gotten a lot of opportunities playing here.”
So at the end of June, on a flight back home from a series of games in California, Granitur went all in and asked Potempa if he could move into the dorms on Montverde’s campus. That way, he could focus completely on school and soccer.
Now, his dad doesn’t have to sleep in the car so they can get home.