By: J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola
It’s one thing to participate and earn varsity letters in multiple sports. It’s something else to earn All-Conference in more than one. But to earn All-Conference and Player of the Year honors in multiple sports in the same season puts an individual on a totally different level.
For Harmony’s Drea Thompson, it’s just another day of fun at the office.
Thompson, a senior, has been a standout three-sport athlete for the past four years in three sports, volleyball, track, and flag football. The last two are spring sports, whose schedules run concurrently.
How gifted and successful is she in those sports?
Thompson is a four-time Orange Belt Conference champion in the high jump, an event where she has picked up all-state honors twice, including last year when she finished tied for third in the Class 4A, FHSAA State Meet.
A multiple-year starter for Coach Paul Strauch’s flag football team, Thompson earned All-Orange Belt Conference and Orlando Sentinel All-Region honors, where she was also named “Defensive Player of the Year” with 10 interceptions. She anchored a defense that allowed less than five points a game as Harmony recorded a 15-3 record and went undefeated in conference play. On offense, she caught 40 passes and scored 11 touchdowns.
For her career, she has 30 career receiving touchdowns and 25 interceptions – numbers that would be even better had COVID not cancelled all but six games her freshman year. Overall, the Longhorns are 42-11 with Thompson in the lineup.
While playing two sports in the same season would be difficult for most, Thompson takes it in stride. “The coaches have been very accommodating to my schedule. On a typical day, I will go to track for half a practice and then slide over to flag for half a practice. I love both sports and participating in two at the same time has not been too stressful.”
In fact, Thompson believes the crossover has actually helped her performance.
“Both sports require some precision. Running exact routes and the explosive speed and the jumping you use in football has actually helped me be better at the high jump. By playing both sports, you actually get more agility training” she said.
Although Thompson says it has not been too hard to participate in both sports, it does require some juggling. This past Wednesday, Thompson was winning the high jump at the OBC meet in the morning but had to hustle back to Harmony for senior night against Liberty in flag football – a game won by Harmony 26-0.
Her high school coaches rave about her.
“Drea is a generational athlete that you would be lucky to get once in a coaching career,” Harmony track coach Adam Kerns said. “She is one of the hardest workers that I have ever had the privilege of working with. She is immensely talented, never complains, and is highly supportive of her teammates. Her most impressive attribute is that between three high school sports, her education, her sports hobbies and her other interests, she has an incredible full plate of constant activities and yet excels in everything she does.”
Strauch added that “Drea’s career at Harmony has been nothing short of spectacular. I am convinced that you could put her at any sport – even one she has never played before – and within days she would excel at it.”
As to what sport is her favorite, she quickly answers track because “It’s the one that I am probably best at and the one I have been doing the longest.” Thompson notes she has always tall for her age and middle school coaches pushed her towards that event. “I tried it and was jumping over five feet in middle school so I just stayed with it.” It is also the sport where she will continue her education, as she committed to the coaches at Jacksonville University.
Her athletic talent comes somewhat naturally from her parents. Her father Dale was a standout high jumper and basketball player for St. Cloud High in the late 1980s and her mother Rachel ran cross country in high school. Dale, who attended college on a basketball scholarship, still holds the Bulldog school rebounding record and had a career best of 6’-5” in the high jump.
“My father was really good in the event and is constantly working with me on technique,” Thompson noted. “He has been a tremendously positive influence on me.”
Currently, Drea is the highest ranked high jumper in the area and will be one of the favorites to win the 4A State Championship in May. “It would be awesome to win a state championship in the high jump and that certainly is a goal,” Thompson said. “But getting to the State Final Four in Flag Football is also on that list.”
As if three varsity sports and her class schedule is not enough to keep her busy, Thompson has numerous and various outside interests.
Her hobbies include rock climbing and skateboarding. She is also an avid surfer. “I’ve been surfing seven years now and just love the sport and its culture. I do a lot of wakeboarding, wake surfing other things in my free time. Keeping close to the Atlantic Ocean was one of the reasons I selected Jacksonville University as my college choice.”
Thompson has always had an interest in art, which helps her stay connected to the ultimate goal of becoming a professional graphic artist. “When I was younger I would always paint my own shoes and other kids seemed to really like them and would give me a few dollars to paint their shoes. That interest developed into a business and now I get hired to paint designs on surf and wake boards. A company that sponsors me also hired me to do some graphic arts work for them.”
“I really try not to brag, but Drea is a fantastic artist. Two different companies thought enough of her art to feature it on their boards” her mother Rachel says with a hint of pride. “What really makes her amazing he she is able to balance all these high school sports, hobbies, work, and school while still putting God first in her life – which is really important to her. Her father and I are really proud of her and the choices she has made in her life.”
There’s no question that going to class and being a multi-sport standout for her high school teams makes Thompson a busy person. Still she participates in skating, surfing and rock climbing for fun; all while running her own business which can make for a hectic schedule. But the easy-going Thompson handles it in stride and with an ever-present smile on her face. “If you consider it fun, than it’s not really work, is it?” she says. “Everything I have been doing has been fun.”