Many students play soccer in high school, but few inhabit the sport the way Wayne Country Day’s Thomas Sumner does.
The senior goalie became a serious student of the game after taking it up in middle school, and since then, Sumner dedicates at least part of his day to improving his craft.
It is evident out on the pitch, where the veteran goalie calls out instructions to his teammates. Over the past three seasons, the Chargers’ team chemistry has enabled them to build up a 51-6 record.
And Sumner’s drive to win helps fire up the Chargers between games and earned him Goldsboro Daily News Male Athlete of the Week honors.
“In seventh grade, I played JV, and in eighth grade, I made varsity, so this is my fifth year on the varsity team,” Sumner said. “Soccer has always been my favorite sport. It’s been a big passion of mine.
“It’s the biggest passion that I have.”
It is also evident off the pitch, where the Eagle Scout serves his community by volunteering with his father at the Boys and Girls Club.
Sumner is not sure where he will attend college next Fall, but he plans on majoring in business and is preparing to play the game he loves at the next level.
“We just have to see what happens,” Sumner said.
As Sumner winds down his career with the Chargers, he reflected on the lessons he learned during his time on the team and their incredible run of success.
“Last year, I was also a captain, and I learned from the four senior captains throughout last year,” Sumner said. “I’m going to take what they did well and try to do that this year.”
In Sumner’s freshman season, the Chargers went 18-4, including a run to the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association 1-A semifinals.
Over the past two seasons, the Chargers have gone 33-2, and there is no question that Sumner was instrumental in that.
As one of the team’s captains, he gave up just five goals last season. In his high school career, Sumner has given up only 25 goals while making 132 saves.
Sumner refused to take credit for the Chargers’ turnaround and said former and current teammates, head coach Steve Ellis and his staff, deserve the credit for turning the Chargers into one of the county’s best soccer programs.
“We’re a really big family, and it’s just a cool group of guys who just push each other each year. Every year I’ve been here, we’ve been really competitive,” Sumner said. “Coach Ellis puts it on us to make sure we hold each other accountable during the season to do the best we can in practice so it will reflect in the games.”
Sumner has big one goal for his upcoming senior soccer season, which is to win an elusive state championship.