CHICAGO (CBS) — Naperville North big man Tom Welch is the centerpiece of a highly-touted recruiting class for Loyola.
Naperville North Senior Tom Welch is hard to miss on the soccer field. At 6 feet 8 inches tall and 200 pounds, he led the Huskies to a historic third straight 3A State Championship.
Welch said, “I get stared at a little bit. It’s ‘Who is that kid?”
He’s a former Gatorade Illinois Player of the year and one of the best goalies in the country, boasting 22 shutouts this past season.
“People make the mistake of saying he is good because he is 6’8″,” Naperville North Soccer Coach Jim Konrad said. “He can cover a ton of ground, and he’s so quick, and he’s got soft hands. I do think there is a real professional career for him in soccer waiting if he chooses, even after college, if he chooses to follow that path, I do see a kid that’s going to go overseas and play in Europe. He is that special.”
But soccer isn’t Tom’s best sport. Basketball is his passion. He’s averaging nearly 26 points a game and over 10 rebounds this season.
“Being a goalie and standing there for 80 minutes, especially on such a good team like North, I don’t do too much,” Welch said. “And in basketball it’s up and down and super involved.”
You might not think that soccer and basketball cross over, but Tom stays soccer helped him tremendously here on the basketball court especially with his footwork.
“I can feel the same kind of footwork, you know, the same kind of defense seeing both the ball and stuff,” Welch said. “And being a step ahead, it definitely helps. Its’ great to play both It just makes you into a better athlete.”
“Being good at one is hard enough but two is incredibly rare,” said Naperville North Basketball Coach Gene Nolan. “But he is an even better kid than he is a player and an athlete. He’s so versatile as an offensive player. He can score at all three levels. He’s a really good defensive player because he’s got great vision, and those those goalie instincts and he’s got really good hands.”
Next up he’ll take his skill to play for Porter Moser and Loyola next year.
“Just the comfort, it might a little bit like here at North. Obviously the Final Four run was big but it’s the way they did that I like a lot, such a culture there, all the guys on the team and Coach Moser, they just do it the right way.