The 2013 Shodair Children’s Hospital Soccer Classic raises money to help treat children at the Helena hospital.
For Noah Loomis, it’s also a chance to close out a long soccer career with a bang.
“After this I’m done,” Loomis says of Saturday night’s game in Helena. “It’s a great way to end soccer for me. I love it.”
Loomis has been playing soccer pretty much since he can remember. He started in the YMCA league before graduating to the club level.
“I think I started club soccer when I was 8,” he says.
Without the Shodair, Loomis’ career would have come to an unceremonious ending in Butte High’s 5-0 playoff loss at Billings Senior last October.
The loss ended a season that was basically derailed before it got started. Butte High suffered a handful of injuries before their first match, and the injury bug stuck with the team all season.
“We did decent last year,” Loomis says. “We got injured before the season ever started.”
Loomis was Butte High’s only boys’ player to receive post-season honors. He earned all-conference accolades his senior and junior seasons.
The 5-foot-8, 145-pound midfielder was a four-year varsity player for the Bulldogs. His varsity career really took off when he was a freshman and was forced into a starting role for the first time during the Class AA State tournament.
A concussion to team captain Brett Powell forced Loomis into the lineup in Helena.
“It was never racking, but it was awesome,” Loomis says of playing on the big stage. “It was kind of fun.”
The Bulldogs upset Kalispell Glacier and Helena Capital at state and ended up finishing fourth. It was the best finish in school history.
Unfortunately for Loomis and the Bulldogs, the team didn’t make the state tournament the next three years.
Loomis considered playing soccer in college. Instead, he will head to Montana Tech — where there is no soccer program — and study mechanical engineering.
“I looked around,” Loomis says of playing at the next level. “I just decided that my education was more important. Everywhere I looked at playing there was nothing I wanted to study.”
Loomis, whose brother Nathanial was a standout kicker for the Butte Central football team, almost never played high school soccer in the first place. The older Loomis earned all-conference honors as a kicker and linebacker for the Maroons, who advanced to the semifinals of the Class A playoffs.
Noah Loomis nearly followed in his footsteps.
“Originally I was going to Butte Central and play football,” Loomis said. “I decided I was a little too small, so I played soccer instead. It worked out pretty well.”
It worked out well enough to land Loomis in the biggest all-star soccer game in the state. It’s an all-star game in which, in addition to being all-conference or All-State, requires players to demonstrate outstanding academic achievement, leadership and citizenship.
Loomis, who was named the school’s Outstanding Boys’ Soccer Player at All-Sports Banquet in spring, is a member of the National Honor Society. He also earned a 3.9 GPA and was the salutatorian at last month’s Butte High graduation.
He says mechanical engineering is a natural fit for him at Tech.
“That’s just stuff that interests me,” he says.
The degree also has the added bonus of living pretty much anywhere after graduation. Loomis, though, isn’t ready to decide where that will be.
“I’m keeping it open,” he says. “I have to get through school first.”
Before school, Loomis still has one soccer game left.
He leaves for Helena to check into the dorms at Carroll College on Wednesday. Then a busy few days of double practices, a clinic for young soccer players and a boating trip leads up to Saturday’s game.
The women play at 5 p.m., while the men play at 7 at Carroll’s Nelson Stadium.
It will provide a great venue for Loomis’ career-ending game.
While he heads to the game, though, Loomis can’t help but think of what might have been had the Bulldogs stayed healthy for his senior season.
“Oh,” he says, “it would have been awesome.”