More than seven years after graduating from Reynoldsburg High School, the dream of playing professional soccer at the highest level lives on for Tony Labudovski.

More than seven years after graduating from Reynoldsburg High School, the dream of playing professional soccer at the highest level lives on for Tony Labudovski.

The ThisWeek Super 12 captain from 2002 is a midfielder for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and whenever he runs into some of his soccer peers from high school, he is in an envious position.

"I really outlived everybody," Labudovski said. "I run into guys that still play, but really not as a career. It's really sad that for a lot of the guys. It was their dream, too."

Labudovski is in his second season with the Riverhounds, who are considered a third division team in the United States professional soccer hierarchy. The Riverhounds are part of the United States Soccer League's second division. Major League Soccer represents the first division of pro soccer in the US and the USL first division represents the second division.

Well before he was paid to play, Labudovski made a name for himself and for Reynoldsburg soccer. Former Reynoldsburg coach Carlos Bonilla said in his 11 seasons at the school, the Raiders never were as strong as they were in 2001 and 2002 when Labudovski was a starter. The midfielder was the best player on a team that had a strong, tight-knit supporting cast.

"Tony was the real deal," said Bonilla, who coaches at Upper Arlington. "He had it all, size and speed. His ball control is outstanding. He was a great playmaker. When the game was on the line he could take over the game."

The Raiders won their first OCC championship in 2001, winning the Cardinal Division ahead of Thomas Worthington, the defending Division I state champion. The following season Reynoldsburg repeated as league champion, winning the OCC-Central ahead of Worthington Kilbourne, which was the defending state champion that year. The Raiders were a combined 27-5-6 during those two seasons, both of which ended with losses in district finals. The program hasn't returned to a district final since.

As a senior, Labudovski led Reynoldsburg in goals (17) and assists (10). He was the district Player of the Year, first team all-state and the OCC-Central Player of the Year.

"On and off the field we were one big family, and that's where it started from," Labudovski said. "We carried that on the field and that won results for us. That was a good time back then. I still talk about it."

Labudovski earned a scholarship at Wright State where he scored 20 goals and had nine assists as a midfielder despite an injury-plagued senior year.

As a sophomore at Wright State in 2004, Labudovski was named team MVP and was second-team all-Horizon League. The following year he was first-team all-league.

When he graduated, Labudovski was determined to keep playing. He took a three-week vacation to Sweden after graduating and ended up latching on with a third division team there. When the season ended, Labudovski returned to the United States and earned a spot with the Columbus Crew reserve team, which was essentially an MLS tryout.

When that opportunity fizzled, Labudovski tried out for the Riverhounds and made the team in 2009 and was offered a contract.

Playing with the Riverhounds is a six-month gig and the goal during the offseason is to latch on with another club until either the next season comes around or a better opportunity arises. As long as his body holds up and he still enjoys playing, Labudovski is determined to keep at it.

As a Riverhounds player, he spends his mornings as an instructor for a youth development camp that the team run. The professional team, comprised of players from all over the world, practices in the evenings and they generally play one game per week.

Labudovski said he'd eventually like to make it back to Europe if another opportunity with the MLS doesn't arise. Either way, it beats sitting in an office.

"You can always get a 9-5 job and a lot of people don't love their job," Labudovski said.

"The thing is I'm not forced to play now. I'm doing what I love to do."