Pro soccer career is dream come true for Abravanel |

Pro soccer career is dream come true for Abravanel

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Dream has met reality for former South Tahoe High soccer star Leon Abravanel.

The 22-year-old Abravanel has signed a contract to play professional soccer for the Kitsap Soccer Club in Bremerton, Wash. The Pumas play in the Professional Developmental League in the United Soccer League.

“Having a dream come true is something extraordinary,” Abravanel said. “My parents and I have sacrificed so much through this, both financially and as far as our time is concerned. It’s nice to see it pay off.”

Kitsap coach John Wedge already has favorable impressions of his defensive back, as do his teammates. The Pumas recently elected Abravanel as team captain.

“Intelligent player, strong in the air, loves to get forward ” physical,” said Wedge in assessing Abravanel’s skills on the team’s Web site. “Good tech skills, defends well, loves to overlap.”

Abravanel’s first pro contract includes free housing in Bremerton.

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After his final season of collegiate play, the Denver University graduate aggressively pursued a pro playing career.

“It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever done,” Abravanel said. “I went through a trial process of trying out for five teams all over the U.S. I was getting some looks and a couple of preseason spots.

“That’s when I came up here, and the coach offered me a contract, something I couldn’t pass up.”

Last fall, Abravanel had two goals, two assists and six shots on goal for Denver University. He was one of the most accurate shooters for the Pioneers, as half of his 12 attempts were on goal. Abravanel played the past two season in Denver after transferring from University of San Diego, where he played two seasons.

During his senior year at South Tahoe High in 2003, Abravanel was voted the Northern Nevada 4A League Midfielder of the Year for the second straight season. His Vikings won the Nevada state championship, finishing with a 23-0-1 record and a No. 19 national ranking.

The Pumas open their season May 2 at the Spokane Spiders.

To promote their new franchise and season, Abravanel and his teammates have been conducting kids’ clinics and personally contacting businesses in the community to take an interest in the team.

“We’re trying to get everyone as excited as possible for the upcoming season,” Abravanel said. “The decisions we make on the field and off the field are very important. We are ambassadors of the community now. People loook up to us as far as leaders in the community.”

The 5-foot-11 Abravanel plans to work hard so he can see his larger dream take shape.

“This is not only a dream come true, it’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “This is my rookie year as a professional, looking down the barrel of a long career. My ultimate goal would be to play in Europe or Asia, or something like that.”

That he is the only member of the Vikings’ unbeaten state championship team playing professional or college soccer bothers him.

“Circumstantially, it’s different for me because I had such a great opportunity to play club and college soccer,” Abravanel said. “Obviously, a lot of players could or should be playing somewhere.”

Abravanel plans to return to the South Shore and give back to the soccer community that helped him reach his goals.

“I want to work with (STHS coach) Chris DeLeon and do something with the kids and start promoting the sport. It starts as a kid and is not something that pops up in a career,” he said.