Gabe Warner is comfortable in different soccer roles, depending on where he is needed.
For his travel team, it's defender, or sometimes forward. He is fast enough to play both.
For Grovetown High School, where Warner is a senior, he plays center mid. His ball-handling ability is necessary there on an otherwise young Warrirors squad.
Warner expects to play in the back on defense for his next team. He was recognized Thursday in Grovetown's gym for earning a spot on the team at Southern Polytechnic State University.
The speedy player said he started the recruiting process at the beginning of the school year. Southern Poly saw him play at a travel tournament in North Carolina and invited him to work out with the team during a February visit.
Warner played a full game at the Marietta, Ga., school. The first half pitted recruits against the current Southern Poly team. The second half, the group mixed up.
Warner said coaches liked his ability to play in the back on defense and also to have the speed to move up and attack.
Coaches offered Warner a spot on the team the same day. And he almost immediately said yes.
Warner said he had also talked to Georgia Southern, Shorter College, Elon, Oglethorpe and Georgia Southwestern.
Southern Poly showed the most interest.
"That college is one that is most in contact with me," Warner said. "They're always e-mailing and calling me back. I was impressed."
Warner is the only member of his family born in the United States. His parents and sisters were born in Panama.
His parents started him in a youth soccer program when he was young. He has played ever since, starting with recreation leagues, travel ball at age 10 and then in high school.
Warner played at Harlem High before being rezoned for Grovetown. The young Warriors, which start seven underclassmen, look to Warner for leadership.
"Combining with three schools and seeing what we got, he's been instrumental in bringing it all together," Grovetown boys soccer coach Bill Madigan said. "From Day 1, it just keeps getting better."
Warner said the Warriors' record wouldn't show it -- the Warriors were 1-4 through this past week -- but they're playing hard. Grovetown lost close matches to Thomson and Richmond Academy and was handily defeated by area powers Greenbrier and Lakeside.
Madigan said the Warriors are improving at a faster pace than they would have without Warner.
"He's able to communicate well on the field, encourage the younger guys, get them in the right spot," Madigan said. "He's our creator on the field."
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