Capone signs with SWU

PICKENS — Ever since the first time he laced up his cleats for junior varsity soccer practice at Pickens High School, Joey Capone knew he was going to be a collegiate soccer player one day.
“The first day of JV, I knew I was going to play at the next level,” he said. “There wasn’t a doubt in my mind.”
Capone officially took the final step in fulfilling that prediction Monday, signing a letter of intent to play for the Southern Wesleyan University Warriors.
A two-time all-region selection and three-year team captain, Capone has been integral in the recent successes of the Blue Flame soccer program. In a tough Western AAA region this season which sent two teams to the Upperstate semifinals last week, Pickens was able to advance to the postseason for the first time since 2009.
“Without Joey, we never would have been able to do the things we did this year,” PHS coach Craig Thompson said. “During the regular season we achieved a goal that hasn’t happened in recent memory — beating Daniel.
“I really have no idea how I’m going to replace Joey next year,” Thompson said.
Although his goal has always been to play soccer in college, Capone acknowledges that academics will be his primary focus on the next level.
“SWU really does well with academics, which is a big thing for me,” he said. “I’ll love playing at the next level, but academics is the most important thing. They also have a good soccer team, so it was a really easy choice for me.”
Southern Wesleyan head coach Camilo Rodriguez said it was PHS assistant coach Nick Willis, a former Warrior himself, who first brought Capone’s game to his attention.
“We’ve been trying to get more involved with players locally, so we can get more involved with the community and parents,” Rodriguez said. “(Capone) was already interested in our school, so we had him come for a tryout and he did great, so after that it was just about working out some details.”
Rodriguez said the simplicity of Capone’s game will be a major plus on the next level.
“When I saw him play, I was very impressed with how calm he was with the ball,” Rodriguez said. “He really uses his skills to play smart.”