Westminster Christian right fielder David Thompson can't legally drive or grow facial hair all that well. But the high school freshman is no longer a boy. He became a man when he led his team on May 26 to a state championship on a sprained ankle that required a cortisone shot the morning of the final game.
"I'm ecstatic," says Thompson. "This has been the best week of my life even with the ankle. Winning states made all the pain go away."
Thompson sustained a high ankle sprain on the second pitch of the state semi-final in Port St. Lucie while chasing a foul ball. Even the umpire noticed the severity of the injury and repeatedly asked if he wanted to come out. Thompson played five innings before being removed from the game and driven back to Miami to see a doctor.
"I spent the night down here and went to the doctor at 9 a.m. to get the cortisone shot which was tremendous because I couldn't walk in the morning," said Thompson. "Then I drove back up to Port St. Lucie for the game with my dad."
Thompson's bat is too valuable to leave out of the lineup, so head coach Emil Castellanos used him as a designated hitter. The freshman rewarded his coach with a double and a 5 to 3 victory against defending champion Jacksonville Providence to clinch the title.
"David is a tremendous warrior," said Castellanos. "He is a great asset to our team and a great stick in the lineup."
That stick belted 10 homeruns and earned Thompson first team all-Dade honors. When he made the team, the coaching staff sat him down and told him his role was to hit...a lot. His homeruns had a way of galvanizing the team, and one in particular rescued the Warriors from a 5-2 deficit in the regional final against Highlands Christian Academy.
"He is one of the best freshman I have ever seen," said Castellanos. "He is going to be amazing when it is all said and done."
But even with the state championship, individual accolades, and newfound attention, the son of Ed, a missionary, and Jennifer Thompson, Westminster's assistant middle school principal, remains humble. Thompson called his game-tying three-run homer against Highlands "lucky" and credits his teammates and coaches for helping him with his successful first season on the varsity roster.
"My whole life I have played against people older than me in all three sports," said Thompson who also plays football and basketball for Westminster. "But this [baseball] has been the biggest challenge so far."
The Westminster Warrior baseball program has an illustrious history with two National Championships in the 1990s courtesy of Alex Rodriguez and Doug Mientkiewicz, both WCS alums and Major League superstars. Since then, the program remained competitive but had not won a state championship since 1998. The victory last Tuesday gave the Warriors a Miami-Dade record ninth championship and with a talented coaching staff headed by Castellanos and a roster led by Thompson, the school figures to add more titles in the coming years.
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To prepare for next season, Thompson will play for the Florida Bombers, the nation's winningest high school summer baseball program since 2000. He will also be in the Warriors' weight room every day preparing for the upcoming football season because after all, he is the starting quarterback as he was last year as well.
Thompson doesn't have it in him to sit back and relax. He can be seen hobbling around Westminster's campus on crutches as he finishes his finals before heading out to afternoon football practice to watch his teammates.
Realistically, improving on Thompson's magical freshman season will be incredibly difficult. But that won't stop him from killing himself this summer trying. "It will be tough," said Thompson. "There is always room for improvement no matter what. I just want to improve every statistic; better batting average, more RBI's, better team record, and we want to win another state championship next year."