One of soccer standout Luis Thompson's more memorable performances came this past year in his club team's Tournament Showcase.
The Greenbrier High School senior, playing with the GA-SC Bulls travel squad, scored three goals in a tournament match.
The timing of his big game couldn't have been more perfect. Among those in attendance that day was Newberry College head coach Sam Okpodu.
"The game that he went and saw me, I scored a hat trick," Thompson said. "It worked out really well."
Thompson's senior year did not exactly go as planned, as he suffered a knee injury midway through the season. However, Okpodu had seen enough from the Greenbrier forward to offer him a spot on the team.
On Wednesday, Thompson made it official, signing a letter of intent to play soccer at the Division II private college next season.
At first, Thompson did not target Newberry as one of the top choices among the schools who coveted him. As the process went along, though, it grew on him.
"Newberry was just kind of like a side track. I was wanting to go to a school in Georgia, but (coach Okpodu) really started showing interest in me," said Thompson, who added that he initially wanted to attend a big college but changed his mind after a visit to the school of just more than 1,000 students.
A big draw, Thompson said, was that 80 to 90 percent of Newberry's team next season will be freshmen, so the large incoming class will be able to grow the program together.
After sitting out his junior season because of disciplinary action, Thompson came back for his senior season. He said that coming back after a year off was tough.
"It took me about half of the season to actually get into it," he said. "At first, it was kind of upsetting, because I couldn't score goals. Finally, I started scoring goals."
Just when he started getting back on track, he injured his knee. The playoffs started without him on the field, but as Greenbrier advanced into the third round against Centennial, Thompson told head coach Chip Warren that he was available.
"I dressed out and told coach I was ready to go, but I think he knew I wasn't at 100 percent," Thompson said.
The Wolfpack lost 2-1 to end their season at 18-1-2 after going undefeated during the regular season for the second year in a row.
Warren said Thompson might not have the ideal build for a soccer player, but that he gets the most out of the tools he has.
"He's a physical player with a great attitude," Warren said. "He's just a solid guy you love to have around, and we looked to him to score goals for us."
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