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