TAMPA – It’s been almost four years since the bay area’s teaching and soccer communities lost a man who had become an integral piece of its fabric.
On Friday night, South Florida’s women will again honor the memory of Mark Dafeldecker as it hosts the 2nd Dafeldecker Classic at the USF Soccer Stadium.
Dafeldecker died of a stroke while on the road to attend one of his daughter Erin’s games for the Bulls. Known to everyone as Mr. D., at the time of his passing he was the principal of Northwest elementary, and a coach for Hillsborough County United, having been an active member of the soccer community since he moved to Tampa in 1981.
“We hope that it honors the Dafeldecker family, and the memory of Erin’s father,” South Florida coach Denise Schilte-Brown said.
The Classic begins with LSU facing Central Florida at 5 p.m., with the Bulls facing Florida International at 7:30 p.m. The tournament continues on Sunday, with the Bulls facing LSU at 1 p.m. before Central Florida and Florida International play at 3:30 p.m.
For more on Mark Dafeldecker, and his legacy, here is a piece by St. Petersburg Times writer Bill Coats, originally published shortly after his death.
UNDER THE WEATHER: The virus that affected the Bulls in their game against Florida has lingered into this week, with Schilte-Brown unsure of who will and won’t be available for Friday night’s game.
It has also meant a reduction in numbers for the Bulls practice this week, Thursday being the first time she has had close to the full squad available.
“It has really hit our numbers,” Schilte-Brown said. “There are so many lingering symptoms that they don’t want to make a call on it until (Friday).”
LESSONS LEARNED: With the reduction of available players, Schilte-Brown said she didn’t know whether she would see if the players had learned what she hoped they would until they get on the field on Friday.
What she did see against Florida, though, was an improvement in her player’s positioning and awareness that allowed them to make the right moves without automatically needing her guidance.
“I do think, every game right now we’re getting a better handle on our tactical awareness,” Schilte-Brown said. “I think that Florida already showed us, even in this short little time, that girls knew where to move, I didn’t have to move them into their spots, they were just floating in and out of their positions, and knew what I was going to ask of them before they even did it.
“Eventually you want them out there playing where they don’t have to think about anything, it’s all coming naturally to them.”