One of the top recruits at Trinity High School might be someone you’ve never heard of. You won’t see him on Friday nights at Pennington Field, nor will you find him on the court with the basketball team. In fact, you will likely never witness him compete. He — Matthew Tompkins — is (sort of) part of the girls volleyball team.
Tompkins, a member of the Class of 2019, has committed to play volleyball for Ohio State University, which happens to be the two-time defending NCAA national champion. Of course, there’s no boys volleyball team at Trinity, nor is it even a UIL sport, but that’s not keeping Tompkins from chasing his dream.
“I’m sad the men’s game hasn’t grown at the high school level yet in Texas, but I’ve accepted it and found ways to incorporate practicing with [the girls at Trinity] and improving my game,” he said.
Tompkins is effectively a member of the Trojans volleyball team, in as much as a student manager.
Matthew’s job is to get in the girls’ heads and frustrate them, until they see, ‘Oh, I can dig his ball,’ for example.
- Trinity volleyball coach Mia Langi, on Matthew Tompkins’ role on the practice squad
“If we travel, he travels,” Trinity volleyball coach Mia Langi said. “He helps the coaches, he helps the girls prepare. He’s pretty much one of our players, but he just can’t be on the court.”
Tompkins gets his time on the court by living part-time in St. Louis. For the second trimester and during the summer, he lives with a teammate from High Performance STL, an elite volleyball club. It was through that he was exposed to colleges and recruiters.
When home at Trinity, he plays a different role — that of the other team’s stud on the scout team.
“If it’s a big hitter or a big blocker or tough server, that would be Matthew’s job,” Langi said. “Matthew’s job is to get in the girls’ heads and frustrate them, until they see, ‘Oh, I can dig his ball,’ for example. It’s really helped our program prepare for the tougher teams we play.”
Tompkins admits he enjoys that role.
“It’s kind of fun, honestly. I kind of like trying to kill a ball as hard as I can and I like making them work and seeing what they can do,” he said.
“It’s a great benefit to our program, because the girls have to pick up their game,” Langi added.
Tompkins isn’t just accepted by the team, he’s made to feel a part of it. It helps that he has a familiarity with most of the players that goes back to well before high school.
“I’ve known most of the girls since I was little, actually,” he said. “They include me and are all really nice to me. So, I feel like I’m part of the team even though I don’t suit up.”
Tompkins’ familiarity with the program, and really his love of volleyball, can be traced to his sister, Meredith, who played at Trinity before graduating in 2014. As the younger brother, Matthew just wanted to do what his sister was doing.
“I always wanted to come to all her games. I would always ask to play with her. That’s really how I got into it,” he said. “It got serious in sixth grade, when I was around 12 or 13.”
Tompkins played on local club teams until he needed to expand his horizons in order to fulfill his potential. So for the foreseeable future, he’ll essentially have two homes until volleyball takes him to his next destination.
In the meantime, he’ll be a big part of perhaps the best scout team in the state of Texas.