Jim Harte has seen a massive turnaround of Carrollwood Day School’s boys soccer program since he became head coach four seasons ago.
The Patriots varsity soccer program was just four years old when Harte arrived, and the team had been struggling mightily.
The team was winless in its first three seasons and had just won five games the year before Harte arrived.
Under Harte’s tutelage, Carrollwood has amassed an impressive 55-24-14 mark in four seasons.
Harte left a cushy gig at Clearwater Central Catholic—winning six state titles in 25 years—to help lead the turnaround of Carrollwood boys soccer.
Harte relished the challenge, but also saw the program’s long-term potential.
“I thought, ‘Why not give it a shot? Why not take this blank canvas and see what we can do with it?’ I felt very confident the people coming up into the program were going to make it special,” he said.
Via his annual Marauder Soccer Camp—the longest running soccer camp in the Tampa Bay area, Harte was able to witness Carrollwood’s up-and-coming talent firsthand.
“A lot of CDS (Carrollwood Day School) kids came to my camp as second- and third-graders, and they were good players,” Harte, 59, said. “There was percolating talent in the school that just needed to be harnessed.”
To help steer Carrollwood soccer in a positive direction, Harte enlisted the help of several assistants, including a former Brazilian professional soccer player by the name of Dudu.
“Dudu played in Brazil with some of the greatest soccer players ever. He came up in the time that Pele was coming up,” Harte said. “He’s forgotten more soccer than all of us will ever know.”
The Patriots finished the 2015-2016 season with a 15-8-2 record, but were 9-0 in conference play. Despite injuries to key seniors and a young roster that underwent growing pains, Harte said the season was “one of the most rewarding in my coaching career.”
While the team lost eight games — the most in a single year at the school since Harte became head coach — it’s because the team took on a substantially more difficult nonconference schedule compared to previous years, he said.
In an effort to “get better,” Harte scheduled games against the likes of Mitchell High, Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic, Tampa Catholic and Tampa Prep.
“We proactively chose to give ourselves a harder schedule this past year. We picked some big fights,” Harte explained.
“If we had played the kind of schedule we’ve been playing in the past, we would probably be undefeated.”
Next year, Harte plans to follow a similar blueprint of scheduling tough nonconference games—hoping for matchups with Steinbrenner High and Palm Harbor University High.
In taking on such large public schools, Harte is trying to develop a team mindset of “picking on the bully.”
The tougher schedule could yield a couple of additional losses, but that doesn’t trouble Harte.
“Your record is a lot about how you schedule,” the Patriots coach explained. “You can schedule yourself a really good record, or you can schedule yourself an average record.
“We’ll be 1,000-to-1 underdogs in (those) games, but you never know until you play the game,” he said.
With a bevy of talented young players on the rise— the starting lineup included an eighth-grade goalkeeper, three freshmen, five sophomores and one junior — Carrollwood soccer figures to be a mainstay in the area for years to come.
Published February 17, 2016