May 26, 2018

Home-field advantage

Family provides foundation for Tomasi’s athletic success

May 19, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

Tallon Tomasi, shown here playing for the Champlain Valley Union girls soccer team last fall, has learned the importance of teamwork on and off the field. (Observer photo by Shane Bufano)

As she has risen through the ranks of student athletics at Champlain Valley Union High School, Tallon Tomasi has taken advantage of some exceptional coaching – and not just from the skippers of her Redhawk teams.

She has received pointers on kicking a soccer ball from the guy who scored the state championship-winning goal for the CVU boys in 2009. She has practiced defense with another male classmate who captured All-State honors in boys soccer as a sophomore. She has gone on training runs for track with a former Redhawk multi-sport star who went on to compete for the University of Vermont Catamounts.

And all of that top-shelf tutelage has originated right at her own front door, thanks to a squad of siblings with athletic success in their blood.

“A lot of people in my family play sports,” said Williston’s Tomasi, who is currently wrapping up her junior year at CVU. “We all support each other, go to each other’s games, cheer each other on – and help each other get better.”

The Tomasi family is well known in Williston. The matriarch, Theresa, adopted her first child in 1962 and has since taken in 25 additional kids. There are currently 11 Tomasi siblings inhabiting their home on Horseshoe Drive, and they look out for one another on a daily basis.

“I help the little kids get ready for school in the morning,” Talon Tomasi said. “We all work together.”

That unified effort toward a common goal can help provide a solid foundation for participation in team athletics, according to a local sports psychology consultant. Williston’s Pam Gundlach runs a consulting service, Head Coach, which helps athletes harness their full potential through mental and emotional training.

“The Tomasis are a great example of how effective teamwork can be at home,” Gundlach said. “There is no question that they have developed a successful team there.”

The Tomasi’s impact on the local sports scene is significant. CVU senior Tino helped deliver the Redhawk boys soccer team its 2009 Vermont crown by tallying the decisive goal against Burr and Burton Academy in the Division II finals. He and younger brother Tanner made the All-State team this past fall.

Their sister, Tova, excelled at soccer and track at CVU before moving on to UVM, where she is now “the glue of the women’s sprint group” according to Brett Wilmott, associate head coach of the Catamounts. She placed second in the 400-meter race and third in the 200 at this year’s Middlebury Invitational, as a junior.

“Tova has quite a large group to work with, including freshmen and seniors,” Wilmott said. “The freshmen look up to her, while the seniors know that Tova is there to push them in workouts as she continues to improve herself.”

Though Tallon Tomasi plays an active leadership role among some of the younger children in her household, she is more apt to let her play do the talking on the soccer field.

“Tallon is very quiet and prefers to stay in the background around team settings, but once on the field she is more comfortable and excels in her soccer prowess,” CVU girls head coach Brad Parker said. “She sets a very good example by her work ethic and sincere efforts in listening to her coach.”

Gundlach said that while the ability to function as a component of a team is likely to be influenced by a student-athlete’s home setting, vocal leadership typically comes from within.

“Some kids are just going to be followers, and others are going to be leaders,” Gundlach said. “It’s something they’re born with; it’s more state than trait.”

And while athletes at all different levels the world over describe their teams as “like a family,” Williston’s Tomasis have learned that togetherness really is best when it is homemade.

“Our mom loves us playing sports, and is really supportive,” Tallon Tomasi said. “We couldn’t do it without her.”

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