MELBOURNE, Fla. - Carson Kaleo was preparing for the upcoming season at Division II Florida Tech. But the Melbourne, Florida school has been interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic like every other school in the country.
Unfortunately for Carson, the Florida Institue of Technology football program just became the first collegiate football team in the state to drop football over funding concerns related to the pandemic.
Carson played high school ball at Steinbrenner High School. He chose Florida Tech as his school to continue his education and football. After taking a redshirt season as a freshman, he played two seasons for the Gulf South Conference Panthers.
Monday, May 11, everything changed.
Carson received word about the football team being eliminated in a virtual team meeting led by the program's only head coach in its six seasons -- Steve Englehart.
"Nobody really expected Coach E to tell us what he told us," said Carson. "He started the meeting and was kind of silent at first. He got a little emotional because he's put in a lot of time with the program. For the administration to tell Coach E that they're cutting the program, it sucks. None of the players expected it. we were all shocked."
The elimination of the program means more than 100 players and eight coaches will have to continue football elsewhere. The saving grace is that the school will honor the scholarship financing for the student-athletes affected.
"The school put out a letter saying our money is still available for the next four years", Carson says. "Since I only have one year of school left, that's basically for the freshmen for the next four years."
Carson Kaleo is exploring his options for the future. He is shocked at the sudden end of the program but remains optimistic.
"It's definitely a loss for everyone. But I feel like we'll all get through this and, hopefully, good things will come out of it."