Thompson Grateful for Soccer Feats, Looks Forward to Tennis

Zach+Thompson+warms+up+ahead+of+Nonnewaug%27s+4-1+win+over+Northwestern+on+Nov.+3+that+clinched+the+Berkshire+League+championship.%0A

Carolyn Montero

Zach Thompson warms up ahead of Nonnewaug’s 4-1 win over Northwestern on Nov. 3 that clinched the Berkshire League championship.

Cosmo Lovig, Sports Reporter

WOODBURY — Nonnewaug senior soccer player Zach Thompson remembers the fear of not getting to play his last season.

“At the start of the year, when the season got cancelled [by Region 14], it was really upsetting that other teams were going to be able to play and we were not,” Thompson recalled. “I knew it was my senior year, and possibly the last time I would play team soccer again.”

Fortunately for Thompson and the rest of the fall athletes, a protest put together by student-athletes before the beginning of the school year compelled Region 14 to change its decision and allow Nonnewaug to play fall sports.

“Getting our season back was a really good feeling,” Thompson said. “To be able to play my senior year meant a lot.”

Thompson made that season count as he helped lead Nonnewaug to its second straight Berkshire League championship.

Thompson also is a member of the tennis team, meaning he has one season left to play, and the CIAC looks to go ahead with the spring sports season.

He has luckily never had to see the cancellation of his favorite sports season, but Thompson did miss out on his entire junior tennis season. With that came the cancellation of the team’s trip to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, where the team was scheduled to train prior to the spring season.

“I was so excited to go to Hilton Head, and when it got cancelled last spring right as COVID came to the U.S., I was really scared,” Thompson recalled. “I wanted to go and play, but I knew it wasn’t safe.”

Hopefully for Thompson and the team, they will be able to play the entire spring season. The upcoming tennis season is something that teammates want to happen so they can watch Thompson perform.

“Watching Zach learn to play tennis was funny to see,” senior teammate Jon Khazzaka said. “At first he was very lost, but he got better very quickly and I hope to see more of that this year.”

“Zach has always been good at soccer, but watching him grow so much in tennis in such a short amount of time was very fun to watch,” senior Brady Calo agreed.

While it’s likely that Thompson will get to play his senior tennis season, it’s unsure how well he will play as he will likely have to help fill big shoes left behind by Jackson Baker, a Nonnewaug graduate who was previously a top singles player.

The lineup of singles players will likely slot in with Khazzaka and Cosmo Lovig being the top two singles players with the third singles slot being open for which Thompson can compete.

For Thompson, this isn’t the first time that he has to fill big shoes left behind by Baker. They were boys soccer teammates for three seasons, with Baker serving as captain during Thompson’s junior season. This past season, Thompson stepped up to fill that captain position and exceeded such expectations.

Thompson gained a long list of achievements, leading the team in goals, while earning All-New England, All-State, and All-BL first-team honors while being a starter in the Senior Bowl and being recognized as a Republican-American Athlete of the Week.

Thompson knows he could not have earned those accomplishments alone, and he credits his coaches for helping him grow and succeed as a player.

“Both Coach [Toby] Denman and Coach [Nick] Sheikh have been big influences on my work ethic and they are two of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” Thompson said.

As much as Zach will miss his coaches and his teammates, it is certain they will miss him, too. Thompson says it’s unlikely he will play a college sport but he will “keep my options open.”