Italian native Marco Micaletto is living his lifelong dream as a professional soccer player for the South Georgia Tormenta USL team here in Statesboro.
Micaletto was born in Rome, Italy where soccer is “pretty much a religion”. When he relocated to England at 8-years-old, he concluded that he wanted to make soccer his career. With the help of various academies and clubs, he began to sharpen up his skills and take the sport more seriously.
At the age of 18, he attempted to go pro in England. In such a soccer heavy environment, Micaletto did not succeed.
When that door closed, another one opened in the form of collegiate soccer overseas in America.
“One of my mates was out here playing college,” he said. “I had no idea about America, about the college system. I didn’t know anything… He called me and said, it was at the end of November, to just come out in January, do University and play soccer. I was like ‘Alright, why not? I’m not doing anything else.’”
He started off his collegiate career with Young Harris College. While Micaletto credits the school for having a ‘brilliant’ soccer program, it was a real culture shock to move from England to North Georgia in such a short amount of time. Before his move, he had never been to America before.
He decided to transfer to the University of Akron his senior year to get a little bit more of a professional soccer feel in a bigger environment, which he found in the Division I FBS giant. Georgia to Ohio was also quite a jump for the Italian, going from a school with just a little over a thousand students to a school that has more than 15 times more enrollees.
That season, the Zips made it all the way to the NCAA Men’s Division I Championship where they lost 1-0, but still clinched the Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship title.
Micaletto received his bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and is working towards finishing his master’s degree in Sports Management.
After the initial adjustment period, the midfielder says that he has settled in nicely in the States but goes home every December. His family finds a way to visit at least a few times a year.
“I like living out in America,” he said. “I like the people, they’re all really friendly in the South.”
When Tormenta was just starting out last season, Head Coach John Miglarese reached out to him to play for the 2018 summer team. After a strong summer performance and when the organization became official, they signed Micaletto to a contract in January of this year.
He swiftly made the decision due to the warm weather, strong relationships with teammates and his faith in the Tormenta leadership.
He admits that playing for a first-year professional organization can be challenging at times, but Tormenta does their part in making sure that the players are happy.
“It’s the first year, no one really knows how to work things out yet,” he said. “The owners… care so much about the players as people, which is really hard to find in the business that I’m in.”
Of course, Statesboro is vastly different from his hometown so he likes to find ways to keep him grounded. When he’s not on the field, he is working on getting his up and coming streetwear brand off the ground. In the future, he’d love to have his own fashion brand.
He enjoys going out, much like the average 23-year-old, and prides himself in being a regular at the Blue Room, a local bar favorite.
The team has not been able to pull out a win since the end of July, but that has not affected the team chemistry. He emphasized that the team does not point fingers at each other when losses happen, they just work together to try to improve.
Tormenta’s playoff chances have dwindled but they are currently in fifth place following closely behind Forward Madison.
The club has a strong brotherhood, and they have only gotten closer since the traumatic head injury of Lucas Countinho. He has made a miraculous recovery and the team felt support from all over the soccer community when he went down.
“On a Tuesday, he was in a coma with tubes going in every which hole,” he said. “On a Thursday, he’s walking… It was crazy. Those times brought us together a lot.”
Regardless of how the season ends, he is forever grateful for the experiences that Tormenta has given him. He described his relationship between him and the organization as just two rookies trying to make it along.
Amanda Arnold, The George-Anne Sports Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org