By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Shane Thomas, a forward on the Palisades High soccer squad, collapsed Saturday after a practice with his club team at Ayala Park in Chino Hills and was given CPR, but he could not be resuscitated.
“Shane was one of the best and hardest working kids to come through one of my programs in over 25 years,” said Pali High assistant coach Dave Suartez, a teacher and coach at Palisades since the 1990s who guided the boys to their only City soccer title in 2016. “He was a leader who was respected and loved by his teammates and coaches. We’ll retire his jersey in his honor to respect his work ethic, dedication and character. He was obviously a great soccer player, but he was an even better person. He made everyone smile and feel included. He pushed everyone to be their best and to never give up. No one would have a negative word to say about him. The world needs more people like Shane.”
The temperature was over 110 degrees Saturday in Chino Hills. The supervising investigator said an autopsy would need to be completed to see if the cause of death was heat-related.
Teammates held a memorial Saturday evening on campus and Suarez, head coach Marvin Lemus and JV coach Josh Figueroa stopped by to pay their respects and support the players.
“I believe Colton Peffer was in charge of the tribute,” Lemus said. “He was last year’s captain and good teammates with Shane. Colton was able to gather as many players and coaches as he could. We tried to get as close to the field as possible but the school is gated right now. We know that the field is where Shane was the happiest.”
Thomas, who was 17, earned All-City Division I honors as a junior in 2019-20 after leading the Dolphins with 18 goals and six assists for a total of 42 points. He scored three goals in a 4-1 triumph over Fairfax and scored two goals on five different occasions. He was instrumental in Palisades retaining the Western League title.
Thomas played junior varsity as a freshman but was brought up to varsity for the playoffs. As a sophomore he helped the varsity make the Division I semifinals.
“There’s been so many flashbacks of all the great memories I had with Shane,” said Lemus, a Pali High soccer alumnus who took the reins of the program from Suarez last season. “I still remember the first day I met him. He was shy but also determined to show me and the program what he was all about. Every game he wanted to prove himself to everyone but most importantly to himself. He was very hard on himself. If he scored three goals, he wouldn’t be satisfied. He always wanted more. Shane was really excited for his senior year and was going to be our captain. He was determined to win a championship. Now it’s on us to take a page out of his book and work twice as hard to make him and his family proud.”
Thomas, who resided in South LA, is survived by his father John, his mother Valerie and his sister Cheyenne, who posted Sunday on Instagram: “Today, God took my soul from me, my best friend. I’m numb inside. You didn’t deserve this, but you passed right after doing what you love, playing the beautiful game. I’ve never met someone so genuine, focused, receptive, responsible, loving. You were perfect, I couldn’t have asked for a better brother. My only brother, my other half. I will carry you with me forever. I know you’ll watch over mom, dad, and I. I hope you’re in paradise right now ballin’—with a ball right next to you on the plushest pitch. I can’t wait to meet you there. I’ll love you forever Shane.”
Donations for memorial services and funeral expenses can be made at www.gofundme.com/f/h49a6p-shane-thomas.
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