Athlete of the Week: CF’s Gennaro making big moves

When soccer announcers talk about a player going coast to coast, it’s usually a reference to someone taking the ball the length of the field.

But for Carolina Forest senior Peter Gennaro, that field is literally 3,000 miles in length. Moving to Myrtle Beach from California as an eighth-grader, he has had to make adjustments both on and off the pitch.

“It’s tough leaving your home and your friends and moving to the other side of the country,” said Gennaro, who was voted this week’s Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week. “I went to a small private school in California and came here to a large public school, so it was a big change.”

Fortunately for Gennaro, it was the international sport and language of soccer that helped him make a new home on the soccer pitch. He began playing club soccer for Coast FA and made friends with future high school teammates whom he will soon play his final high school game with in the near future.

With the Panthers entering the Class AAAA playoffs on Tuesday against visiting West Ashley, Gennaro knows any game can be his last. He hopes to make the most of his senior season, and make it to last as long as possible.

“This season started out rough,” he recalled. “We lost to a couple of teams earlier in the season we shouldn’t have lost to and it wound up costing us a shot at the region title. Then in the middle of the season we had a lot of injuries, but know we have everyone back at full strength and we’re ready to make a run.”

Gennaro also was bitten by the injury bug, but he has played through a twisted ankle to catch fire late in the season and lead the Panthers to the playoffs. He scored a hat trick in a win over Sumter last week then followed it up with two late goals to down rival Conway and sew up the No. 2 seed in Region VI-AAAA.

“When I scored the hat trick I felt like I was finally back on top of my game,” said Gennaro, who led the Panthers with 14 goals this season while dishing out two assists. “Hopefully we can put a few more in the back of the net and go as far as we can.”

Carolina Forest coach Scott Gallimore is counting on Gennaro to take the team deep in the playoffs. “Peter has as good a ball skill and scoring ability that you will find in high school soccer,” he said. “He has rededicated himself this year to the team and it is really paying off.”

Whenever the Panthers’ season comes to an end, Gennaro knows his next steps. He will play summer soccer with his travel team, including a tournament in Texas, before heading to Clemson in the fall. Rather than taking scholarship offers to smaller schools, he wants to get the full college experience while attempting to walk-on for the Tigers, but he’s no stranger to making big moves.

“It was important for me to put education first and Clemson has a great program for my major,” Gennaro said. “(Former Carolina Forest goaltender Chris Glodack) is up there and he told me if ever there was a good time to walk-on it’s now. Hopefully I can make the team, but in case this is my last chance to play soccer I want to make the most of it.”

Photo courtesy of Gregg Turbeville

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