Wynne-Thompson signs to play soccer at Concord

Mar. 18—Growing up, there were few sports Shamad Wynne-Thompson didn't play.

"I was a multisport athlete. I played anything — football, basketball, baseball, soccer. I did a little bit of everything," he said.

There was one sport that people may have expected to be at the top of his list, considering both of his parents were college level basketball players who graduated from Woodrow Wilson.

Wynne-Thompson undoubtedly has the basketball gene, but his heart took him in a different direction.

The Woodrow Wilson senior cemented his future on Monday by signing to play soccer at Concord University during a ceremony at the Woodrow auditorium.

He said he started playing soccer when he was 4 or 5. It wound up being his true love and he made the decision to focus on it when he was in seventh grade, even with the immediate influence — his mom Karmella played basketball at Lincoln Memorial and dad Rico played at Bluefield State.

"I did a little bit of everything, but I found my passion in soccer," Wynne-Thompson said. "Dropping basketball — my parents played and they wanted me to, but I just found that soccer was where I kept a safe space and it was just my life."

Veteran Flying Eagles boys soccer coach Steve Laraba was definitely happy to have him aboard.

"He was very good for us in the back. He is a very physically gifted player, great size and strength," Laraba said. "He's much quicker than he appears. Good 1 v 1 defender. Really helped solidify the back for us the last couple years. He's a great leader and leads by example.

"You can't find anybody anywhere that's going to have a bad thing to say about him. He's an outstanding young man. He's going to do a lot of great things, not just athletically but he's going to be a great representative of Beckley and Woodrow."

Wynne-Thompson credits Laraba for playing a big part in transforming him into the player he has become.

"First two years, I wasn't really as in shape as I needed to be for soccer, so I can thank coach Laraba. He helped me get to where I needed to be," Wynne-Thompson said. "Putting the hours in with him, to get my conditioning and my strength, and touches on the ball in general. Then eventually my junior year I got a starting spot and same thing senior year.

"I can just thank all my coaches in general for helping me grow to where I am now."

He was considering other state schools, including WVU Tech, WVU and Marshall, but is looking forward to playing soccer for the Mountain Lions.

"I only went on one visit to Concord and I fell in love with it all," said the well-spoken Wynne-Thompson, who will major in biomedical sciences. "The campus was really nice. The coaches that I talked to were very inviting, very welcoming. They seemed like they would be able to work with me when I need help. Even life lessons if I needed help with anything. I just stuck with them. They were really impressive."

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