Standing at a towering 6-8, Naperville North goalie Tom Welch doesn’t even have to jump to protect the top of the net. His teammates laugh as he extends his arms toward the top of the goal effortlessly, stopping every ball that attempts to fly over his head.
Welch, a senior, is the tallest goalie coachJim Konrad has seen in his fifteen years of coaching.
“If he was six-feet tall he’d be a great goalkeeper, he just happens to be 6-8,” Konrad said.
Nine months out of the year Welch is on the basketball court. He’s the No. 5 senior in the state according to 247Sports.
For the remaining three months out of the year, Welch has been busy leading the soccer team to state championships.
The Huskies just completed the program’s first-everperfect regular season (19-0-0), are on a 39-game winning streak and are trying to win a third consecutive state title.
“Our first [title], it was new and we didn’t know how to react,” Welch said. “We weren’t expected to win that year. The second year we felt the pressure the entire season. Everyone wanted to knock off the defending state champs.”
Naperville North is ranked No. 2 in the nation by USA Today. The Huskies are the team to beat in Illinois and Welch is one of the biggest reasons.
He has allowed just three goals this season and even scored three himself. Welch also broke the school’s record for career shutouts this season (33).
Soccer is just the tip of the icebergwhen it comes to Welch’s athletic ability.
“He’s always made it very clear he was playing basketball [at the next level],” Konrad said. “There is no doubt that I could pick up the phone and call any [soccer] coach in America, send them game tape and they would all be interested in Tom.”
Last basketball season Welch averaged 13.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists. By the end of the season Welch had 20 Division I offers, including Mississippi and Southern Illinois.
Welch committed to Porter Moser and Loyola in August.
“I don’t get much action [on the soccer field] because we’re so good,” Welch said. “In basketball, I’m always involved. I get a little bored sometimes being on such a good team, I don’t have to make as many saves.”
Welch has played soccer and basketball since he was nine.
“The main goal right now is to win a state championship with soccer three times in a row,” Welch said. “I just think that’s unbelievable, especially with this group of guys. The moment of celebrating with them is what I’m dreaming about right now and that’s why we’re working so hard.”
Naperville North faces Neuqua Valley in the regional finals Friday afternoon.
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