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25144: Hermantin(News)Soccer: Lakes' Noel gets ready to begin pro career (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Soccer: Lakes' Noel gets ready to begin pro career
By Lindsay Jones
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Early next week, his Palm Beach Lakes High diploma in hand, Fabrice Noel
will begin his life as a professional soccer player.
Noel, a Haitian immigrant who sought political asylum in West Palm Beach 2
1/2 years ago, will graduate with his class Friday. By Wednesday he will be
in Denver, where he will sign a developmental contract with Major League
Soccer's Colorado Rapids.
He then will be part of the Rapids' 28-man roster and should see action this
summer in MLS's new reserve league, where younger members from each club
play against each other, said Rapids spokesman Jurgen Mainka.
"I'm going to do my best to make the team better," Noel said.
But before Noel could leave Palm Beach Lakes, the school honored him with an
assembly Tuesday, where representatives from the Florida Dairy Farmers
presented him with the 2005 Mr. Soccer award for the top player in the state
in any classification.
Noel, 19, scored 58 goals with 14 assists this season for the Rams, bringing
his career total to 98 goals and 32 assists.
"This is a big deal for the program, a big deal for the school, but mostly,
a big deal for Fabrice," Lakes coach Adam Spangenthal said. "He deserves
this opportunity he's gotten, and I think he will do very well."
Noel's classmates, many wearing their graduation caps that had been
distributed that morning, stood and cheered as Noel's teammates gave him a
milk toast, to go along with the dairy theme.
"Some people know about me, but they didn't really know my face," Noel said.
"Today, they know my face."
Noel was mobbed by his teammates and friends after the ceremony but said he
was disappointed he could not share the excitement of his graduation and
professional future with his parents and younger brother, who are in Haiti.
Noel was a teenage soccer star in Haiti and was traveling in the United
States with the youth national team when gunmen stormed into his family's
home looking to kill him in November 2002. When the men did not find Noel,
they shot and killed his two older brothers. Noel has lived with friends in
West Palm Beach since.
"I'm so happy, but part of me is sad, because with all these things, my
family is not here with me," Noel said.
Rapids coach Fernando Clivijo watched Noel play at Miami's Copa Latina in
late February, and was impressed enough to invite Noel to the Rapids' spring
Noel spent several weeks with the team in Birmingham, Ala., and then
Houston, before returning to West Palm Beach to finish his last two months
of his senior year. Noel impressed team officials, but he could not sign a
contract with the professional team while he was still enrolled in school.
Noel said he speaks with Rapids coaches several times a week about his
training program here, which includes plenty of conditioning. Noel also
plays with a Haitian team in Miami occasionally.
"It's not going to be the same as high school," Noel said of the
professional game. "You have to be more stronger, so I'm preparing for the