Bloom gets his dream job
by Emily Horos
Marietta Daily Journal Sports Writer
March 01, 2010 01:00 AM | 628 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Former Lassiter High School and Berry College standout Mark Bloom recently signed a contract with AC St. Louis, a professional soccer team.

Special to the MDJ
Former Lassiter High School and Berry College standout Mark Bloom recently signed a contract with AC St. Louis, a professional soccer team. Special to the MDJ
Like many college seniors, Mark Bloom spent some time this spring hunting for a job to take upon graduating in May.

The exercise management major at Berry College recently got his first offer, but it wasn't an average job.

The four-year starter on the Berry College soccer team and former Lassiter High School standout recently signed a one-year contract with AC St. Louis, a newly formed professional men's soccer team. He also has an option for a second year.

"As a young kid, I always dreamed of playing soccer," said Bloom. "You never expect it to come true."

Bloom said he took up soccer at the age of nine after watching his father, Neil Bloom, coach the Lassiter team.

"I started out playing baseball, but I watch the (soccer) players my dad coached and kind of admired them," said the younger Bloom. "So I dropped baseball and went to soccer."

He hasn't dropped the ball since.

The 2006 Lassiter graduate was named the Georgia Soccer Coaches Association State Player of the Year as a senior, voted All-South by the National Soccer Coaches Association and named to the Marietta Daily Journal/All-Cobb County Soccer Team after helping the Trojans to the 2006 Class AAAAA state tournament. Much of the time, he played along side his older brother, David.

Neil Bloom recognized Mark's athletic talent.

"Even as a two-year old kid, you could tell he was going to be a great athlete," said Neil Bloom, who is thrilled Mark is living his dream. "How often do you get your child living their dream and he really is living his dream."

In college Mark Bloom helped the Vikings to a pair of Southern States Athletic Conference titles and a 48-26-5 record. As a senior, he was named the team's Most Valuable Player and was twice recognized as an all-conference selection. Despite playing defense and midfield during his career, Bloom netted 13 goals and recorded nine assists.

After wrapping up his final collegiate season with a 12-2-4 record, Bloom began pursuing a professional career. He attended an open tryout in Philadelphia for the city's new Major League Soccer team. He practiced with the Charlotte Eagles, a USL Division II team, and attended a soccer combine in Sanford, Fl. It was at the soccer combine where Bloom caught the eye of AC St. Louis and asked to attend an invite-only tryout in late January.

Bloom made it through the first day of cuts and before leaving the facility, he was offered a position as left defender with AC St. Louis. Less than a week later, he had signed a contract.

"It all happened really fast," said Bloom. "Everything was feeling a little crazy, but it's all starting to settle down."

With training beginning Tuesday, Bloom arrived in St. Louis a few days ago and had his team physical on Sunday. He is currently living with one of his teammates in a home-share situation and is slowly learning his way around the new city. With the support of his professors at Berry, he will complete the requirements to graduate on schedule in May.

Berry head coach Richard Vardy doesn't doubt Bloom will be an impact player in St. Louis.

"(Bloom) will be a great professional and I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up playing at an even higher level in the next few years," said Vardy. "Mark has a rare combination of talent, hard work and desire to get to the next level that has made him successful."

Bloom played in the Premier Development League during each of the past two summers and credits that time with helping him get his shot at professional soccer.

"Especially for kids coming from small schools, that's where you can really get notice and put your name out there," said Bloom.

AC St. Louis has a mix of former-MSL players, such as Steve Ralston, and rookies like Bloom.

"There are a lot of new guys, like me, but I think we will have some experience as well," said Bloom. "I am still just getting to know them."

While the players might just be starting to meet each other, the coaches are already quite familiar with Bloom and his abilities.

Fancisco Filho, AC St. Louis's director of player development, said Bloom is the best left defender he has seen.

Neil Bloom sees tremendous potential in Mark.

"No one is going to work harder than Mark," said the elder Bloom. "He has a tremendous upside. He's never been coached by these world-class coaches like he'll have in St. Louis. These coaches have seen a lot of really good players and if they like Mark, that's something special."

Overall, Mark Bloom said he is just trying to enjoy each part of the process.

"It's just new," he said. "Being all by myself in an unfamiliar city. We haven't started training, so I don't know what my schedule will be. There are a lot of unknowns right now. I'm excited. I'm not scared or anything."

And as much as Bloom is feeling alone in a new city, his parents, Neil and Joan, are missing him at home in Marietta.

"His mother and I have just been holding ourselves all weekend and just feeling kind of lost, is the best way to put it," said Neil Bloom. "I know (Mark) is really looking forward to it."

AC St. Louis will open its season on April 10 against the Carolina Railhawks and play its home opener on April 27.