By Sam Blackman
When citing the term "quality student-athlete," Clemson men's soccer player Thomas McNamara is certainly an excellent example.
Not only does he enjoy the challenges of playing college soccer, he enjoys the challenges of the classroom. The West Nyack, NY native is very dedicated in doing a great job in both areas.
While he was attending Don Bosco Preparatory High School, McNamara was looking for a challenging school academically to further his education, as well as a good soccer program in the Northeast. When Tiger Head Coach Mike Noonan recruited him while serving as head coach at Brown, McNamara knew the Providence, RI university was the right place for him.
"I had a great relationship with Coach Noonan and enjoyed playing for him my freshman year. He took the Clemson job at the end of that season. When the opportunity presented itself and I had a fifth year of eligibility, I knew I wanted to play for him again.
"When I contacted him about enrolling in graduate school and playing for Clemson, I was impressed with everything that was going on during my visit. I thought Clemson would be a great fit for me.
"I'm very impressed with Clemson's history and facilities for men's soccer. I'm also very taken by Clemson's academics. I feel as if I'm getting a great degree."
McNamara graduated from Brown with a degree in business economics and is working on his master's degree at Clemson in applied economics & statistics.
The midfielder credits his parents with teaching him the values of being dedicated in his undertakings, especially academics.
"Both of my parents played soccer in college," explained McNamara. "My father played at Ohio Wesleyan and my mother played at Providence. She later transferred to Ohio Wesleyan. They dated in high school and wanted to be together. They introduced me to several sports, but soccer stuck with me. I played ice hockey, roller hockey, baseball, and Gaelic football.
"My father coached me every year that I played soccer up until my college playing days. He coached my youth and club teams. He and my mom have been big influences on my soccer career. They, along with my uncle, have been very supportive. There was always someone there from my family at my games.
"I did well academically in high school and I wanted to go to a school that would challenge me academically. Coach Noonan started recruiting me to Brown and I knew it was the place for me."
Brown did prove to be the right place for McNamara. During his freshman season, he was a starter for the Bears and tied for the team lead in goals (5), all of which were game-winners. The five game-winning goals led the Ivy League.
During his sophomore season, he was a Second-Team All-Ivy League performer and an NSCAA Third-Team All-Northeast Region pick. He started 18 of 20 matches and accumulated 10 points on three goals and four assists.
As a junior, he played in just four matches before sustaining a season-ending injury. However, he was able to take a medical red-shirt season, and thus has a fifth year to play college soccer.
During the 2012 campaign, he was named First-Team All-Ivy League and tied for the team lead in scoring with 12 points on four goals and four assists. He was named to the NSCAA All-Northeast Region squad.
"My most memorable match came during my sophomore season when we defeated UConn on the road. We beat them in front of 3,000-4,000 people in the NCAA Tournament."
McNamara then enrolled at Clemson in 2013.
"I'm so happy I started Clemson in 2013 and I am already acclimated to this climate."
McNamara will receive his master's degree in just three semesters. After his college days, he wants to give professional soccer a shot and he later wants to enter the financial industry and work with a large financial institution.
As for the 2013 Tigers, he is looking forward to the start of the season.
"We improved as the spring progressed. I am so anxious for our season to start. We are going to push for the NCAA Tournament. We keep improving in practice and the team has such good chemistry."
Noonan is also very pleased to be re-united with McNamara.
"Tom adds a lot of qualities to our team. He was named our captain a short time after he arrived. He adds the attacking and creative element to the game.
"Off the field, he is a laid-back, intellectual person. But when he crosses the line on the soccer field, he is a warrior and competes to win. This example is what I'm looking forward to carrying over to our team.
"Tommy is a talented player and comes from a great family. He is a great addition to our team."