Photos of Thomas Nelson
and Spartan water polo action are in the gallery at right. (Photos by Bob Sansoe.)
LOCAL SPORTS HERO - THOMAS NELSON, De La Salle High School
Growing up, Thomas Nelson
was always on a swim team.
learned early on that he
cherished spending time in the water and concentrated on finding his
also spent many of his
childhood years playing basketball.
The team aspect and tactical thinking required for such a sport was opposite of swimming and appealed to him.
One day Thomas' parents heard about water polo, and they suggested that he
give it a try.
parents' advice and tested out water polo, discovering that it was the perfect combination of both swimming and a ball sport, the two things he
Thus, a passion was born.
By the time he
was 13, Thomas
joined the 680 Drivers Water Polo Club
and had an amazing season which ended in the 2006 Junior Olympics.
At 14 he also played for the Lamorinda Water Polo Club, making it to the 2007 San Diego County Cup and taking 2nd place.
skills progressed as the years passed; Thomas
helped lead his
Lamorinda 16 and under A team to the Los Alamitos Winterfest Tournament in 2008, where they took 2nd place.
Later, as a 16 year old, on an 18 and under team, thomas and his
team went on the place 4th at the 2008 Junior Olympics.
began attending De La Salle High School
became one of only two freshmen on the junior varsity water polo team.
abilities awarded him the honor of MVP.
The following year, Thomas topped his previous achievement by holding the only underclassman position on the varsity water polo team.
The De La Salle team made it to NCS where they took 2nd place.
Thomas' gifts thrust him into the limelight on his
junior year, Thomas
was the teams second highest scorer with 75 goals, and he
also impressed with 78 steals, 36 assists, and a 73% win rate in sprints.
People were beginning to take notice.
received 1st Team All League
, 2nd Team NCS, and East Bay Athletic League honors due to his
Currently in his
senior year, Thomas
continues to find ways to improve his
He is a captain of the varsity water polo team, where he leads the team in goals with 105.
also has 97 steals, 31 blocks, and 35 assists.
Thanks in large part to Thomas' talent, his
team made it to the NCS semi-finals.
Clearly the five days a week practices, including the three morning condition sessions, are paying off.
It doesn't stop there.
When water polo season ends, Thomas swims on the De La Salle swim team, for which he is currently a captain.
As a freshman, Thomas
was immediately accepted onto the varsity team where he
swam the 50 and 100 yard freestyles, as well as every relay.
In 2009 his
relay team went to the Contra Costa County Swim Championships and conquered, taking 1st place.
Then in 2010 Thomas
achieved the All American Time in the 400 yard free relay and the All American Consideration Time in the 200 yard free relay.
In addition to playing for the high school, Thomas
also swims with the Terrapins, a competitive team.
When asked which sport he
likes better, Thomas
replied, "Swimming's a lot of fun, but as I get older, I like water polo better.
It's a lot more fun to chase a ball than a black line."
The classroom proves to be just another area in which Thomas
is able to excel.
In 2009 and 2010 Thomas
received the USA Water Polo Academic All American award with Outstanding Achievement for a 4.0 GPA.
NCS also awarded him the Scholar Athlete Award in 2010.
With report cards hot off the press, Thomas
now knows that he
holds a 4.33 GPA in his
senior year while taking three AP courses.
Thomas' sterling academic and athletic achievements have awed the staff at the prestigious Princeton University, which is where he
plans to begin his
college education this fall.
Thomas will play water polo for Princeton and plans to major in chemical engineering.
"It'll be different [living in New Jersey], but I'm not scared," Thomas
parents couldn't be more thrilled.
"Usually you either have a terrific athlete or terrific [student].
It's rare to have both.
It's wonderful, and we're very proud of him," his
Between playing two sports for his
high school, competing for two club teams, and maintaining his
astonishing academic record, Thomas
barely has any down time.
does have hours to spare, he
spends it hanging out with the water polo guys or his
girlfriend, doing "typical high school stuff.
With such a dedication to his
athletics and academics, Thomas
is always on the go.