by JAKE NUTTING
Unused Substitutes has learned that Keith Fulk will be pulling double for the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Along with serving as Director of the Development Academy teams under the new affiliation with Tampa Bay United, Fulk will also act as Head Coach of the Tampa Bay Rowdies U23 in the Premier Development League.
The bulk Fulk’s coaching experience has come in the college ranks. He led his alma mater the University of Tampa to three Sunshine State Sunshine State Conference titles and three NCAA Division II National Tournament appearances. His best year at UT came in 2001, when the team posted an unbeaten record of 19W-0L-2D and claimed the national championship.
Fulk also spent the last six seasons in charge of the men’s team at Saint Leo University, where he racked up another two Sunshine State Conference titles and three national tournament appearances. Prior to landing at Saint Leo, Fulk had an eight-year run as an assistant with the U.S. U-17 team and one season as Head Coach at the IMG Academy in Bradenton.
Unused Substitutes can also confirm that the roster for the first season of Rowdies U23 has already been set. The team will be made up of players from the region and around the country. One team official stated they have high expectations for the team given the talent that has been assembled. Unlike last year’s developmental squad in the National Premier Soccer League squad, Rowdies 2, Rowdies U23 will only include amateur players.
Rowdies Assistant Coach Cheyne Roberts played a significant part in building the Rowdies U23 roster and will continue to be heavily involved with the team, acting as a conduit between the development squad and Stuart Campbell’s first team. Roberts was the Head Coach of Rowdies 2 last year.
The Rowdies view their new PDL team as an opportunity to set up a more traditional development system. Another obvious aspect of the team’s focus on development is the affiliation with Tampa Bay United. The Rowdies have remained quiet about their partnership with the local organization, but details of their academy plans are expected to be announced this week.
Rowdies U23 will kick off the PDL season on Saturday May 27 at Weston FC. The team’s first home game at the Waters Soccer Complex will be the following Wednesday against IMG Academy Bradenton.