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Boys soccer program honors former player

When William "Bud" Thomas was a member of the Rosemount boys soccer team, Irish coach Mike Floersch remembers, he was the kind of player who would give all his effort during games and practices and provide leadership on and off the field.

So, when Thomas enlisted in the Marine Corps, the move didn't exactly shock the coach.

Floersch figured it was a natural progression for Thomas.

"Even here in practice he would go 100 percent," Floersch said. "But it was more outside the field, becoming a leader. I talked with his mom and soon afterward and he was already a sergeant. He's one kid, you know he'll thrive. He's such a leader.

"People attract to him. He just draws respect, gives respect. He's one of those ones where in the military, you would want him by your side on the field. He exemplifies the type of person you want by your side."

Thomas was honored at halftime of a recent Irish boys soccer game. He was given a signed jersey and Rosemount soccer patch by Floersch and assistant Karl Peterson.

Thomas graduated from Rosemount in 2005. He began his service 10 days after graduating and has had two tours of duty in Iraq in his short time in the Marines.

"I've only been a helicopter mechanic, so I haven't seen too many crazy things," Thomas said. "You do see a lot of things that aren't reported. All the good things that happen. Fortunately, there's a lot of good stuff that I've been able to see and understand."

Thomas spent a 13-month tour at Al Asad Air Base in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

Later, he served seven months at the Al Taqaddum base in Habbaniyah, Iraq.

It's a journey that Thomas long expected. And, soccer helped prepare him for the physical challenges ahead.

"I knew for quite a few years that I wanted to be a Marine," Thomas said. "It was something I knew since the fifth or sixthgrade. I always looked up to them and respected them and knew it was something I wanted to do.

"I didn't go out on a whim and make this decision. I tried to set myself up for it mentally like I needed to, and physically I was ready for boot camp. I was always a little guy and soccer was great for keeing me in good physical shape."

Since his deployment, Thomas has kept in touch with Floersch and Peterson. When he is in town he tries to meet up with the coaches, or spend some time with the team.

Thomas also has presented Floersch with a flag that was flown in Iraq.

"You hear about the deaths of soldiers and sometimes we forget to honor the ones that are still there," Floersch said.

And, when given the opportunity, Thomas shares his perspective with current Irish players.

"As far as soccer; have fun and do what you can now," Thomas said. "You don't know if you will ever be playing again once you get out of high school.

"And don't waste time in high school. It's an important time to grow and have fun."