A dozen current Philadelphia Union Academy players marked the end of their high school at a graduation ceremony at YSC Academy on Friday.
"These fine young men have set high expectations for themselves and made significant sacrifices," Head of School Dr. Nooha Ahmed-Lee said in a news release. "Their character shows in all they do. I am confident that all these qualities, coupled with their passion for soccer and learning, will continue to serve them well in the future and distinguish them as the Class of 2016 YSC Academy graduates."
The commencement ceremony was the second held at the private school, which opened in 2013 with the goal of providing a high quality and flexible education for elite soccer players.
"I am honored to have had the opportunity to watch you grow both on and off the field of play, and admire your commitment and dedication to your soccer and academic pursuits," Richie Graham, YSC Founder and proud father of one of the graduates, said at the ceremony, according to a news release.
A total of 13 students graduated - all but one, Continental FC Delco midfielder Diallo Simon-Ponte, are on the Union Academy U18 team, which trains and plays many of its home games at the nearby YSC Sports. Midfielders Yosef Samuel and Emmanuel Perez are the only players not going away to college this fall. Samuel is pursuing a professional contract, likely with Bethlehem Steel FC and Perez, who has had his first season with the U18 shortened by injury, is coming back for a postgraduate year at YSC.
Two other current U18 players, Conor Bradley and Shane Bradley, will be graduating from The Haverford School on June 10 and will be playing at Villanova this fall.
Below is a list of all the graduates:
- Justin Bajek, Goalkeeper, Middletown, Del., Maryland University
- Robert Campbell, Defender, Wallingford, Pa., Clemson University
- Lamine Conte, Midfielder, Philadelphia, Pa., University of Mobile (NAIA)
- Joseph DeZart II, Midfielder, Jackson, N.J., Wake Forest University
- Tiger Graham, Forward, Paoli, Pa., Dartmouth University
- Jerren Nixon, Forward, Smyrna, Ga., University of Virginia
- Emmanuel Perez, Midfielder, Boynton Beach, Fla.
- Diallo Simon-Ponte, Midfielder, Monmouth Junction, N.J., Fairfield University
- Raheem Taylor-Parkes, Forward, Wesley Chapel, Fla., University of Virginia
- Auston Trusty, Defender, Media, Pa., University of North Carolina
- Andrew Verdi, Goalkeeper, Ivyland, Pa., University of Michigan
- Abu Winter, Forward, Newtown Square, Pa., Palm Beach Atlantic University (Division 2)