Former Bucs kicker leads local boys soccer team to state championship

Martin Gramatica may be known for his time in the NFL as a kicker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he also has a passion for soccer most may not be familiar with. 

When he first moved here from Argentina he was only interested in playing soccer in high school, but he's kicking precision attracted the attention of the school's football coach. Gramatica eventually accepted a football scholarship from Kansas State University and that led to him being selected by the Bucs in the third round of the 1999 NFL draft.

Now, Gramatica is reliving his passion for soccer by coaching the West Florida Flames East Lake U19 Boys Elite Soccer team. 

"Football came later in my life, it wasn't ingrained into me like soccer, the plays, the offense, the defense and so that's why I'm so passionate about teaching soccer, because I feel more comfortable, and I know more soccer." Gramatica said.

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The West Florida Flames boys recently won the Florida state championship, and now they are heading off to nationals in Colorado where they will compete and Play their first game July 15 for the championship. 

"I'm very proud of this team because of the dedication and the effort they put into this year, but I've had some really great coaches in my past that taught me how to be accountable, how to teach players to be accountable," Gramatica said. "This team stuck together, and I'm very proud that they are willing to put in the work to get to nationals."