East Bay soccer star taking game to college
GIBSONTON - A week after one of its swimmers signed a letter of intent with Florida State University, East Bay High School sent another one of its athletes to the world of college sports. On April 21, Walter Pimentel signed a letter of intent to play soccer for Warner University in Lake Wales. "It wasn't just the athletic skills that drew us to Walter," said Kurt Bienias, men's and women's soccer coach at Warner. "We were drawn to the whole package, especially the way he and his family presented themselves." With his parents Tarcila and Walter Sr. beaming and most of his East Bay soccer teammates cheering him on, Pimentel thanked everyone who supported and helped mold him as an athlete.He said he struggled when he first started playing, "so I have to thank all of my coaches," Pimentel said. "I wasn't very natural at all." His East Bay soccer coach and an assistant coach from the South Hillsborough Celtic Football Club team, which he has played for the last several years, also were at the signing. "He was a big reason for us having the best year we've had in a long time," said Jonathan Drake, East Bay soccer coach, whose team finished 12-6-3. "He was one of two seniors on the team, and he accepted that leadership role." Mike Greco, an assistant coach for the Celtic club, worked with Pimentel for the last two years. "He's got great vision, played some good defense for us and has great skills on the field," Greco said. "Off the field, he's very polite and easy to work with." In addition to earning the athletic scholarship to Warner, Pimentel - boasting a 4.09 GPA - also qualified for an academic scholarship. "What we're most proud of is that he's an outstanding student, and now he'll also be able to do something he loves in college," his mother said. Pimentel, who was also a member of East Bay's track and field and cross country teams, plans on majoring in business with a pre-law track. He became emotional as he addressed his friends, family and coaches shortly after signing his letter of intent. "I have to thank God, my parents and everyone else for supporting and believing in me," he said.
Reporter John Ceballos can be reached at (813) 627-4762