By Kathryn Arena / Sports Information Staff
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- When Jackson Toomey puts on his jersey and laces up his cleats, there is nothing that can come between him and the game he loves.
Toomey, a junior communication major at Eastern Connecticut State University, has been a member of the men’s soccer team for three years. The Willington native discovered his passion for soccer at a young age while playing with various teams, including his team at E.O. Smith High School.
During his high school career, Toomey began contacting Greg DeVito, head coach of the Warriors’ soccer team. “If you want to play in college, you have to take initiative,” said Toomey. He knew he wanted to attend a school where he could be close to home and play the sport he loved at a high level. Eastern was a top choice where he could do both. After contacting DeVito, Toomey began the college soccer recruiting process, which landed him a spot on the squad.
The junior midfielder did a lot of work in order to secure a spot on the team, but that came with challenges. As a freshman in 2016, Toomey was the starting center-midfielder for the Warriors, starting 11 of the team’s 17 matches, playing half of the game’s minutes, and contributing three assists. As a sophomore, he again appeared in all but one game, but lost his starting job when senior Nicholas Warren transferred back to Eastern to complete his eligibility after a two-year hiatus.
At left: Junior Jackson Toomey (right) was re-united with brother Will (left) at midfield in the Eastern soccer program this past fall.
The frustration of not being on the field was overwhelming, but Toomey did not let his soccer career end there. He trained extra hard during the offseason with his younger brother Will, a two-time All-America soccer player at E.O. Smith who completed his freshman season at Eastern this past fall as a second-team All-Little East Conference selection.
The brothers pushed each other through various strength and conditioning exercises during the summer in order to prepare for the 2018 season. “I got a certain level of confidence from working out with Will,” says Jackson. “He was a huge motivator for me.”
The brothers – each of whom was a four-year starter in the powerful E.O. Smith High soccer program -- were re-united on the starting midfield line at Eastern this past fall and helped the Warriors re-gain the LEC regular-season title (their seventh in 12 years under DeVito) which had escaped them during Jackson’s first two years.
This past fall, Jackson appeared in all 19 matches, starting 17 and averaging 73 minutes a game for a 15-4-0 team which won seven of eight LEC regular-season matches; Will started 16 of the 17 matches in which he appeared – the first of two which he missed with injury was the team’s only conference setback, in mid-September -- and had two goals and six assists in an average of 69 minutes per match.
Jackson has an A- average and has been a qualifier to the LEC All-Academic team in both years of eligibility. He stays involved on campus by participating in multiple extracurricular and community service activities. He is also part of ETV-News -- a student run organization on campus that produces live news for the public – and plans on interning with ETV-Sports this spring. Jackson also works in the advising center where he is a peer academic coach for students needing assistance with their education.