Westchester’s Thomas commits to Sewanee

Jun. 14, 2013 @ 11:11 PM

Will Thomas has grown up around soccer. 

From his days running the sidelines as a ballboy to earning all-state honors as a player, he has learned over the years how to play the game at a high level.

Now Thomas, a senior center-mid at Westchester Country Day School, has turned that understanding into a commitment with NCAA Division III school Sewanee: The University of the South to continue his soccer career at the next level.

“This has been my goal since about seventh grade,” he says. “Some people’s soccer careers end at the end of high school, but I wanted to keep it going. Some people say they’ll play club or intramural in college, but it’s not the same. And I realize that.”

Thomas, the son of Bruce and Cindy, and his family have been involved in area soccer for about as long as he can remember. His brother, Rustin, who is now the girls coach at Westchester, and sister, Tory, played while their father coached.

Through their club teams at the Piedmont Soccer Alliance and Piedmont Triad FC and school teams at Westchester, Thomas and his siblings developed a passion for the game, as all three won state championships and will have played in college.

But even as he played different sports growing up, including basketball, baseball and track and field, he has always been drawn back to soccer and its universality, deciding to focus on mainly soccer for much of his high school career.

“It’s a sport to me that’s like a language,” he says. “I can talk to people who are Chinese or Spanish, and we can play soccer, enjoy it together and kind of communicate that way.”

During his four-year varsity career at Westchester, Thomas, who was also named all-conference and all-region as a senior, was a key contributor in large part because of his willingness and ability to play anywhere on the field and to do it well.

“He’s had a huge importance the last two years,” Wildcats coach Adam Schwartz says. “His versatility — he can play anywhere on the field — and he’s very coachable. He’s one of those guys where, if you say, ‘I need you to mark this player.’ He’d do it.

“You can put him up front on set pieces to score goals and he can do it. But he really sacrificed a lot of offensive output his senior year to help us in the back. For someone his size and his skill with the ball, he’ll do great in college once he gets a little stronger.”

In narrowing his choices to also include Stetson and Mercer to study and Roanoke to play, Thomas found a natural fit in choosing Sewanee, where his sister also played. So, he was familiar with the campus, the school’s academics and its athletics.

“It feels great,” says Thomas, who wants to major in environmental science and minor in Spanish. “I’m really excited, and I can’t wait to follow in the footsteps of my brother and sister.

“I’m really looking forward to playing collegiately under Coach (David) Poggi and Coach (Camilo) Valencia. Just getting to play soccer at the next level, that’s the biggest thing for me.”