Michael Owen Baxley, a freshman at Strawberry Crest High School, is this week's Athlete of the Week.
Michael Owen Baxley, 14, is a freshman at Strawberry Crest High School and plays on the school’s Varsity soccer team. In addition to soccer, he is also in the school’s academically-rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) program.
In addition to his regular club practices, he put in extra training leading up to the high school tryouts and, after making the Varsity team, continues to train outside of regular club and high school practices.
His hopes to one day play soccer for University of South Florida (both his parents are alumni of the school) and his long-term goal is to play soccer professionally.
How long have you been playing soccer and what position do you play?
I’ve been playing club soccer for West Florida Flames since 2018, when I was nine-years-old. I’ve been playing recreational soccer since I was three. I can play almost any position but I play best at left and right wing.
How did you feel when you made the varsity soccer team as a freshman?
I was very excited that I made the team, and was slightly nervous at the first tryouts. During the last tryouts I scored a goal and became confident the coach would see me as a fit on the team.
When you scored your first goal this week, what was going through your mind?
I was super excited, and knew that this was my chance to show my importance to the team. As soon as I scored I just wanted to celebrate with my teammates, Carter had a great cross for the assist.
Who’s your favorite professional soccer player and why?
I love the French footballer Antoine Greizmann, because of how consistent and underrated he is. He is also very versatile like me and puts in a lot of work. I also like Bellingham.
Who do you think is the soccer GOAT?
As a kid I grew up watching Real Madrid so, I always thought Cristiano Renaldo was the GOAT, but now that I have the option to watch Messi play, I realize that he is a better captain and team player, which is the most important part of soccer.
How would you describe your game in three words or less?
Exciting and Intense
If you’re not playing soccer, what do you do in your free time?
I usually listen to music and watch Premier League highlights or work on homework and run.