Hit on diamond, made people miss in football

After a standout career for Sioux City East in football and baseball, Dom Thompson-Williams will concentrate on baseball at Iowa Western. “His ceiling is unknown at this point,” his high school baseball coach said.

COUNCIL BLUFFS — One of his coaches at Sioux City East described Dom Thompson-Williams’ talents:

“He was just a natural at it. He understood the position. He had the instincts about the position that a lot of kids just naturally don’t have.”

It speaks to his athleticism that those comments could have come from his baseball or football coach. In this case, it was football coach Bob Goodvin speaking of Thompson-Williams’ pass-catching ability. The baseball coach doled out similar praise.

“I think he’s the best pure hitter I’ve ever seen at the high school level,” Jared Ocker said. “His ceiling is unknown at this point.”

For his ability to dominate two sports, Thompson-Williams is The World-Herald’s Western Iowa Male Athlete of the Year for the 2012-13 school year.

Thompson-Williams initially intended to compete in football and baseball at Iowa Western Community College. After one day of football practice, his heart told him otherwise. Now, he’s strictly a Reiver baseball player.

“When I got here and realized the college life, the reality … I just decided that it was way less pressure on me to play baseball,” Thompson-Williams said recently as he looked out onto the baseball field on Iowa Western’s campus.

Baseball was Thompson-Williams’ first love. He started playing travel ball with the Siouxland Stars at age 11 and loved it.

Football was more of a love-hate relationship. When he was 10, he’d go with older brothers Tony Blades and Gabe Blades to a grassy park known as The Lot. They would play tackle football, and Thompson-Williams was one of the youngest kids there.

“I’d get hurt and I’d start crying or something,” he said. “My brother would be like, ‘Get to the side until you stop crying, because I don’t want you crying in front of everyone.’ ”

Eventually, Thompson-Williams would jump back into the fray.

“I think playing there is the reason I was good at football,” he said.

In sixth grade, he found success playing fullback in a youth league. He was still at running back two years later when things changed. He was getting hit harder, and much more frequently.

“I hated getting hit,” he said. “I just wanted to quit football. I didn’t think I was going to play high school football.”

But Thompson-Williams changed his mind, and moved to receiver as a freshman. He earned his first varsity start in the fourth game of his sophomore year against Marshalltown, but he kept botching his assignments in the first half.

“I remember my quarterback screaming at me, saying ‘you’re messing up the team,’” he said.

In the second half, Thompson-Williams caught two long touchdown passes and finished with 108 receiving yards as the Black Raiders rallied from a halftime deficit to win 35-14. He finished his career with more than 2,200 receiving yards and 21 TDs.

As a senior, he caught 58 passes for 1,234 yards and 12 scores. His highlight tape is an array of spectacular plays.

“Dom just knew it,” Goodvin said. “He understood leverage. He understood the importance of running a route right. He understood the technique involved in getting in and out of cuts.”

Said Ocker, also East’s defensive coordinator: “His ability to make people miss, start and stop, was amazing.”

In baseball, Thompson-Williams started 26 of the Black Raiders’ 38 games as a freshman. He was a career .474 hitter with 53 doubles, 13 triples and 10 homers to go with 138 RBIs and 91 stolen bases.

He’s a tremendous defensive center fielder. At the plate, he possesses quick, strong wrists and struck out only 31 times in 538 career at-bats.

“His hand-eye coordination is unmatched,” Ocker said.

Thompson-Williams played basketball as a freshman and sophomore. He considered joining the team as a senior, but a shoulder injury late in the football season squashed that. He competed in the state track meet as a junior in the 400-meter relay, but said track was never his thing.

Baseball and football were, but being constantly on the go comes with a price. Thompson-Williams doesn’t have a relationship with his father, and was raised by his mother, Teresa Thompson. When you’re always on sports teams there are plenty of needs, which created occasional tension with her.

“Man, we’d get into deep arguments,” he said. “But we’d get over them within 20 minutes. She’ll come in and it will be over, just like that. So that’s good. She’s definitely the main reason I’m here.”

Thompson-Williams also has one younger brother, Terrick Thompson. All of his brothers are proud of his achievements, he said, but his mother is most vocal. Thompson-Williams chides his mother for always bragging to her friends and co-workers about him.

“She says, ‘I can brag about you whenever I want,’ ” he said with a chuckle.

Thompson-Williams is ready for the next step. He’s eager to show what he can do for the Reivers — and whoever else is watching.

One thing he won’t do is aim low. He said after Iowa Western, his goals are to “hopefully go to an SEC team, a big school, and dominate there. And then hopefully get drafted and see me in the league sometime.”

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