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Kicking it pro
Mahaffey joins Atlanta Silverbacks

CONYERS - Former Heritage standout soccer player Chris Mahaffey has made it to the show.

Mahaffey, 23, spent last year with the Atlanta Silverbacks Premier Development League (PDL) team, but after impressing Silverbacks head coach Jason Smith this preseason, Mahaffey has been bumped up to the big time.

"It feels good. It's every kid's dream to play professionally," Mahaffey said. "Last year, I played with the Silverbacks' PDL 23-and-under team.

"This year, I was one of the few people who got to work out with the rest of the team during preseason. One day when I was out there, the coach came up to me and asked me if wanted to do preseason camp with the team. During that time, I just kept getting better and eventually they offered me a contract."

The season starts Saturday for the Silverbacks as they take on the Carolina Railhawks at the ReMax Greater Atlanta Stadium.

"I don't think it's really hit me yet," Mahaffey said. "I'm really excited."

Mahaffey said he feels confident that the team will have another solid season.

"We've got a good squad. The Silverbacks finished second last year and lost in the championship game," Mahaffey said. "Coach (Jason) Smith feels this year's team is even better than last year's team."

Smith said he's looking for Mahaffey to provide the team an offensive spark.

"In his time with us, Chris has shown glimpses of brilliance," Smith said. "We still have to find out exactly where he is going to fit in to the team - in the midfield or up front. Once he acclimates, I can see him doing very well for us."

Mahaffey also feels he can be an offensive threat on the soccer field.

"I think I bring a more attacking aspect to the team," he said. "Hopefully, I can get in there and score some goals. Right now, my goal is just to continue getting better every practice."

Besides being excited about the opportunity, Mahaffey acknowledged the people who helped him get to where he is now.

"The family is very excited," he said. "I also want to thank Steve Muccillo, my PDL coach."

Mahaffey is a 2003 graduate of Heritage High School. He also played at Georgia State and overseas in Germany.

Brandon Evans can be reached at brandon.evans @rockdalecitizen.com.