Evan Sale, Campus Carrier Sports Editor
Avery Boulware, Campus Carrier Editor-in-Chief
|PHOTO COURTESY OF ATLANTA UNITED|
|Berry alum Mark Bloom (’09) has been traded to the Atlanta United MLS team as a defender.|
According to the NCAA, only 1.7 percent of college soccer players play at any professional level, and a Division III school like Berry is statistically far less likely to produce professional athletes compared to a Division I school. However, Berry alumni Mark Bloom (‘09), has overcome these obstacles and is playing in the MLS (Major League Soccer) for the Atlanta United.
Bloom was born and raised in the suburbs of Atlanta before coming to Berry College in 2006, where he helped the Vikings achieve a 48-26-5 record and led the team to two conference championships.
“For me, Berry was a great place to grow and develop as a person and player,” Bloom said. “I came in as a freshman, undersized and lacking confidence, but I left physically and mentally ready to take my game to the next level. Rich and Konrad (Berry men’s soccer coaches) could instill confidence in me so I could continually get better. I’m also thankful for all my teammates and friends at Berry. The people are what makes it such a special place.”
Bloom said it was difficult going from a small Division III school straight to the professional level.
“Trying to play professional soccer coming from a small school wasn’t easy,” Bloom said. “It was something that few people had done, so I wasn’t exactly sure how to do it. After talking with my coach, we decided that I should sign up for various combines where professional coaches and scouts would come to evaluate players. From a combine, I played in the second division for a few years before getting my chance in the MLS with Toronto FC. It wasn’t an easy journey by any means.”
Bloom started at the lowest division in the NCAA and moved his way up to being a premier player on the professional circuit, playing for teams like Toronto FC and now the Atlanta United.
It was not all easy for Bloom once he made it to the MLS. During his time on Toronto FC, Bloom sustained an injury to his quad completely tearing it. This left him out for an entire season.
“Missing an entire year is very difficult,” Bloom said.” It takes time to recover from the injury itself, but it also takes a lot of time to get game fit again and feel like yourself.”
The Atlanta United FC is a new team, and this is their inaugural season in the MLS after being in the minor leagues for a couple of years.
Bloom is especially excited to be back in Georgia, near both his home and alma mater.
“Atlanta is a special city and a special team so it has been incredible. But more than that, playing in front of my family and friends is a great honor.”
Bloom will play in Atlanta United’s first home game, which will take place on Sept. 10 at Mercedes Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta.