Kicking and Keeping

Junior goalie Tommy Meek has allowed only one goal in seven games for the Palisades High soccer team this season. Photos by Steve Galluzzo

Tommy Meek Makes the Plays on the Soccer Pitch and the Gridiron for the Dolphins

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

When the game is on the line Tommy Meek wants the ball in his hands—or on his foot.

As the starting placekicker and punter for the Palisades High varsity football team and the starting goalkeeper for the varsity soccer team, Meek understands he may get precious few opportunities to make an impact, but those are the moments he lives for.

“There’s a lot of pressure because no matter what you do—good or bad—the spotlight is on you,” Meek says. “That’s just the nature of the position I play.”

Since the football team made it to the City quarterfinals in the fall, Meek had little time to switch gears and prepare for soccer, but the transition wasn’t difficult for the 6-foot-2, 175-pound junior.  

Tommy Meek averaged 41.7 yards to earn City Punter of the Year honors.

   

“It’s not that hard… it only took me about a week to get back into soccer shape,” he admits. “As a goalie I don’t do much running.”

Meek began playing football as a freshman on the Pali High JV team and was encouraged to give the sport a try by teammate Noah Ghodooshim. His kicking debut was in the Dolphins’ nonleague finale against Huntington Park and   he had a fabulous start, making all of his extra-point tries and sending every kickoff into the end zone for a touchback.        

“Punting is a lot harder,” he says. “For one thing, you have to catch the ball. It’s not on a tee, no one is holding it for you. You also have to know where to put the ball, you have to get underneath it to get better hang time. For kickoffs you just have to drive the ball and make sure your clamp foot is perfect.”     

In addition to 200 hundred kicks with Josh Figueroa every practice, Meek attended a  Chris Sailer Camp in  Las Vegas last January and plans to go back this month. He also went to  West Coast Kicking camps in Chino last summer. Meek was named All-City Punter of the Year, following in the footsteps of All-City kickers at Palisades—Ethan Erickson a few years back, Quinn Perry (punter) in 2016 and Campbell Geddes in 2017.

“Campbell was a senior when I was a sophomore and he taught me a lot, especially on kickoffs,” Meek recalls. “I’ve been working on perfecting my technique.”

Perhaps Meek’s best outing this season was at Brentwood,  where he made two field goals,  drove every kickoff into the end zone and each punt over 40 yards. He also played a key role in the Dolphins’ upset of Venice, pinning the Gondos inside their 10 on a punt in the final minute.

Goalkeeper Tommy Meek boots the ball out of danger.

“Having a kicker like Tommy who is confident and is telling you he’ll make it is huge” Pali High football coach Tim Hyde says. “It gives you more options on offense, improves your field  position and takes away the other team’s return game.”

Meek recorded 23 touchbacks in the fall, punted 27 times for an average of 41.7 yards, including eight inside the 20 (his long was  55) while making 33 of 38 extra points and six of seven field goals.         

“Onside kicks are my favorite,” Meek says. “I work on putting it to the right side of the X every time and bouncing it right on the 50.”

While the Dolphins fell short of the City title on the gridiron, Meek believes they could reach that goal on the pitch. He started his soccer career at right back in second grade at Kenter Canyon Elementary but switched to goalie in sixth grade.

Tommy Meek connects on one of his three extra points against Fairfax in September. He converted on 33 of 38 point-after tries and six of seven field goal attempts in the fall.

“It was more out of necessity than anything else,” Meek remembers. “We were at a tournament and our goalie quit so I said I‘ll jump in there. I’ve always been tall and I really liked it.”

Meek started in AYSO but switched to club in fourth grade with Real SoCal in the San Fernando Valley, then played for Westside Surf in West LA for three years, then with LAFA for one and a half years and then with FCLA through the middle of 10th grade when he stopped playing club soccer.

“I love making the game-winning save and I used to get mad at myself if I didn’t, but I’ve learned to focus on the next play,” Meek says. “Reactions are key and I can kick past midfield consistently.”

Meek injured his ankle last year against University and didn’t play in Palisades’ season-ending loss at El Camino Real, although he made several huge saves in a playoff win against Granada Hills.      

“Tommy has a lot of experience and confidence in the net, his footwork and positioning are good and he can be vocal,” Pali High soccer coach Dave Suarez notes. “I think he now views football as his primary sport but if his desire was to play soccer in college he could have an opportunity.”

Meek, who lives off Sunset in Brentwood, enjoys playing paddle tennis in Venice and golfing with his dad at Rancho Park. A certified scuba diver, he goes to Catalina Island twice a month. His three sisters­—Molly, Megan and Maddy—all played soccer at Pali High.