Romano follows family tradition to become an Osprey


For Ponte Vedra High senior Mark Romano, there were many decisions that led him to signing a soccer scholarship with the University of North Florida, but at the end of the day it simply came down to family.

Afterall, both his dad and uncle played for the Ospreys and were part of the school’s inaugural soccer team, and his uncle is actually in the UNF athletic hall of fame and holds the record for the most goals scored in a career.

“It’s really cool to have those family ties there,” Romano said.

However, the ties to UNF do not stop there, as his mom also went to the school.

According to Romano, it definitely made his college decision an easier one, because he had been so involved around the UNF program over the years, and he always imagined what it would be like to step on the field for the Ospreys himself one day. 

“I remember going to events with my dad and I’ve always just been around it,” Romano said. “It’s going to be pretty cool to now have the chance to go there and make it your own.”

When he woke up the day of his signing the reality of it all did not hit him fully until he signed the letter of intent and saw his name on the paper.

“I was like ‘wow, I’m actually going to play soccer at a place I always watched and imagined growing up,’” Romano said. “It was definitely something I always wanted to do.”

He started playing soccer when he four years old in three vs. three games against his friends, but then once he turned seven years old, he transitioned to playing for a travel team.

Part of his development over the years also involved going to soccer camps hosted by UNF, with his first coming when he was 10 years old.

He has played an array of positions throughout the years, but he has found a home in the last several years as a midfielder.

“I just seem to have the skills for it, because I’m very smart when it comes to soccer, and it’s a position where you can really work out the game,” Romano said.

He had focused on playing travel ball, until this year when he decided as a senior to play for his school soccer team for the first time.

“I had never been able to play because at that level of travel ball, they don’t let their kids play school ball,” Romano said. “I committed to UNF going into my senior year, and I knew it was the last year I could ever do it. I’m so grateful that I got to get out there and just enjoy playing my senior year, because I would have definitely regretted it looking back.”

There is not one thing in particular that Romano is looking forward to college more than others, but instead he is anxious for the experience as a whole.

“I’ve watched it, but never actually been in that environment, so I don’t really know what to think about it until I get there,” Romano chuckled. “I’m excited for the mystery of it all.”

He will enter college with the hopes of earning a degree in business, but he also understands that path is still susceptible to change once he gets on campus and hones in on what he wants to do.