Southeastern's Skylar Funk is Tropics first pick in first-ever MASL college draft

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Florida Tropics didn’t have to look far for their first selection in the first-ever Major Arena Soccer League draft.

Southeastern University’s Skylar Funk, a forward, was the team’s selection in the draft held Dec. 20 in which the league’s 14 teams selected three players each. The first two rounds were considered territorial picks, with the final pick an “at large” selection

However, Florida stayed local, picking Funk, a native of Alton, Illinois. He played four years at Southeastern – who plays their home games about two miles from the Tropics home field at the RP Funding Center – along with  Gabrielle Privitera of the University of South Florida in the second round and  Ninrod Picado  of Rollins College with their last pick.

“Skylar has an athleticism built for indoor soccer. He brings a talent that we’ve found in the past in other players that translates well indoors. His physicality and his ability to play with his back to the goal are among his biggest assets as well. He’s going to be a good player to grow and develop.” --  Florida Head Coach Clay Roberts.

Funk, the 11th overall pick in the draft, is no stranger to the Tropics, who are coached by Clay Roberts. Roberts also serves as the head men’s soccer coach at Southeastern. 

“Skylar has an athleticism built for indoor soccer,” Roberts said. “He brings a talent that we’ve found in the past in other players that translates well indoors. His physicality and his ability to play with his back to the goal are among his biggest assets as well. He’s going to be a good player to grow and develop.”

Funk actually played six years of college soccer, getting extra seasons thanks to being redshirted one year, and gaining an additional year of eligibility because of the Covid pandemic. In all, he played 52 games for the Fire, scoring 15 goals and adding six assists. His first two years were played at Lewis and Clark Community College in Illinois. 

Funk said he is grateful for being drafted and looking forward to learning the indoor game more fully.

“I played a little indoors in St. Louis from where I’m from, but nothing like this, so the transition from outdoor to indoor, it’s going to be helpful to learn from a great team with a lot of veterans,” he said. “They’ve given me advice. Vini (Dantas) gave me a good one that little is good, meaning stay calm, too much movement is easier for defenders, and if you lose the ball, get right back after it.”

Privitera , a midfielder and native of Venezuela who is from Orlando, has played in 25 games for the Bulls, scoring three goals. Pinrod, from Ocoee, Florida, played two years of soccer at Wisconsin Green Bay before spending last year with Rollins. A defender, he had one goal in 10 games for Rollins. 

“Gabe is an attacking player. He’s been a tremendous player and helped USF have a lot of success,” Robert added. “He’s a local player we want to build up.”

The Tropics will host the Baltimore Blast Wednesday, Dec. 21 and Friday, Dec. 23 before hitting the road for a game in Utica Dec. 28. They will wrap up 2022 with a home game against the Chihuahua Savage on Dec. 30