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West Ranch's Chris Tumasone: An extra gear

West Ranch senior Chris Tumasone’s energy and skill have turned doubters into believers

Posted: January 7, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 7, 2012 2:00 a.m.

West Ranch senior Chris Tumasone will help lead a Wildcats team looking to repeat the success of their 2011 season when they won their first-ever Foothill League title.

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First impressions can be deceiving.

For Chris Tumasone, success was built over time.

In four years, the West Ranch High senior has personified just that.

No matter what level and no matter where he’s playing, Tumasone has always brought a unique combination of passion and humility to the soccer field.

"He gives it all and gives everything to the game and he’s a good team player," says West Ranch head coach Fred McGinn. "You find a lot of talented players out here in this valley, but he’s a good team player."

McGinn should know. He was one of the first coaches at the school to get a look at Tumasone and his skills when he arrived as a freshman.

At the time, McGinn was the head coach of the junior varsity team.

Tumasone, with his background as a club soccer player, was being considered for the JV squad as a ninth grader.

Despite his experience, Tumasone never assumed anything

"He never really had that ego of entitlement," said senior teammate Brandon Dooley. "He never really expected to make varsity and I think that kind of gave him more confidence (later on)."

By the time the season started, McGinn ultimately decided the defensive midfielder wasn’t ready for JV just yet.

"He just didn’t look very athletic," McGinn admits thinking at the time.

A few years later, with Tumasone taking on the role of captain and playing a hybrid position between defensive and attacking midfield, the first-year varsity coach is happy to proclaim his initial error in judgement.

It didn’t take more than a couple games into the 2008-09 season before Tumasone got his first chance in a JV game when McGinn needed an extra defender.

One game was all it took.

Tumasone was there to stay for the remainder of the season.

"I didn’t even expect to be on JV," he says. "I was on the frosh team. I knew everyone on team, and then boom, I’m on JV."

And as for that player who supposedly lacked athleticism?

That was quickly put to rest, as McGinn recalls.

"Within the first three minutes, I picked up the phone and called (former varsity head coach) Mo (Burgess) and said, ‘You’re not going to believe this.’" McGinn says of Tumasone’s first JV game. "Just the way he moved, it was amazing."

Before long, Tumasone’s play caught the attention of Burgess too.

Sophomore year, it was on to varsity.

By that point, Tumasone was plenty comfortable playing a level up.

"It wasn’t as scary for some reason (playing varsity as a sophomore) because I kind of blended with the team a little more and I feel like I was just a little more ready," he says. "It felt like it was the same level, almost."

Dooley — who has also been involved with the program since ninth grade — remembers Tumasone always being a step ahead of his peers.

"Back then, he wasn’t the biggest, but he was really aggressive and he had really good ball skills," Dooley says. "His soccer mind was more mature than most kids as a freshman."

What separated Tumasone from the pack was his ability to crank up the intensity in game situations.

The "unathletic" kid that McGinn saw on the practice field became something completely different.

"There’s an extra gear that he has," Dooley says. "Sometimes before a game you won’t see it, but then five minutes into the game, you’ll see it switch on and you’ll be like, ‘Holy crap, where did this come from?’ ... He’s sort of like a linebacker."

Tumasone plays with a distinct aggressiveness and attitude that makes him a force on the team’s back line.

He’s also spent enough time working on his individual ball skills so he can work his way into an offensive role and try to score a few goals.

It’s all pretty standard for a kid like Tumasone, who’s always looking for avenues to improve so he can keep his hopes alive for playing at the college level next year.

"Those players that want to play soccer for the rest of their lives, they just want to get better every single day," Tumasone says.

So far, no bites from colleges.

Perhaps they’re making the same mistake West Ranch coaches did when they first saw Tumasone play.

If his high school career has proven anything, all he needs is a chance.

 

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