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Skylar Thomas is Impacting Grassroots Soccer One Deck at a Time

Skylar Thomas | Centre Back | Pittsburgh Riverhounds

It gave me a chance to see the impact I could have on the community I grew up in, just by playing soccer. It sparked an interest in sharing my experiences with the next generation. I began seeking out different engagements to serve the community, inspire young footballers during my free time.

Skylar Thomas

Centre Back

Pittsburgh Riverhounds

× The interview with Skylar Thomas was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

Tell us about your journey becoming a professional soccer player. When did you know you wanted to pursue a professional career in the sport?

I began playing soccer at the age of 5 and have been in love with the game ever since. I can still remember my first game and how much joy it brought me. I feel so blessed to have found love and passion at such an early age.

When I was 12, I stopped playing basketball and volleyball to focus strictly on soccer. I knew that if I dedicated my time to soccer I could do something special with it. This is when I knew I wanted to become a professional soccer player.

I was fortunate enough to have great support throughout my youth career from my parents, teammates, friends, and coaches. It was during my college career at Syracuse University that I realized my dreams of becoming a pro player were attainable.  

As an athlete at the professional level, having the opportunity to play in front of a home audience like you did in the GTA is a very special experience. Did that experience motivate you to seek out ways to be involved in the community or with the next generation of Canadian athletes following in your footsteps or was that your plan all along?

Being drafted to Toronto FC and playing in the GTA in front of family and friends was an amazing experience. It gave me a chance to see how much of an impact I could have on the community I grew up in, just by playing soccer.

It sparked an interest in sharing my experiences with the next generation. I began seeking out different engagements to serve the community, inspire young footballers during my free time.

At that point, I was solely focused on my playing career. However, it became clear to me that somewhere down the line I wanted to play a larger role in helping young athletes become the very best they can be.

You recently launched your new company called KickDeck to provide an affordable and accessible soccer training program for youth. What inspired KickDeck what makes it unique?

3 years into my professional career, while playing in Charleston, South Carolina, I felt like I was ready to give back to the game so I began training youth soccer players.

During my time as a trainer, my ambitious clients would constantly ask me, “How do I train by myself at home?”. I began searching for answers to this question but I just couldn’t find any.

This was a problem I recalled having when I was a kid as well. I would give my clients a basic homework sheet with a series of drills on it but it just wasn’t exciting enough.

One day while playing cards, I had the thought of putting soccer specific at-home drills on a deck of cards. I began testing the idea and shortly after, KickDeck was created. 

KickDeck is unique because it gives young athletes a simple, fun, and effective way to self-train at home. Anyone can train with KickDeck because it is so affordable, easy to use, and accessible.

As long as you have a soccer ball, you can use KickDeck to improve your game. During the pandemic and beyond, KickDeck has proven to be a great asset for youth athletes around the world to use in order to play in a safe environment. 

Due to the ongoing pandemic, a lot of youth are unable to participate in sport right now through school and other programs because of social restrictions. Do you think your training can contribute to the next generation beyond soccer skills?

I do believe KickDeck can contribute to the next generation beyond soccer. I believe that sports can provide a life full of opportunity and joy!

Through developing social skills and building confidence, staying active and being a positive impact on your community, KickDeck believes that everyone should have an equal opportunity in sport.

As we continue to grow, we aim to create a supportive community, sponsor youth athletes, donate decks and balls, and build facilities around the world. Through consistent effort and passionate service, I strive to cause change in grassroots athletics around the world one deck at a time.

I plan on expanding beyond soccer as well. At KickDeck, we promise to inspire, support, and educate athletes as we continue to introduce alternative training options for all sports.

As a professional soccer player it must be difficult to juggle your soccer schedule and using your platform for business and community involvement. How rewarding is it to be able to do these things despite obvious time management difficulties that can arise?

KickDeck has been a very rewarding journey.

It keeps me accountable, causes me to grow everyday, and allows me to give back to the game that has given me so much.

KickDeck also helps me bring more passion and purpose into my playing career. I’m now playing to inspire a generation of young athletes. 

Matias Bueno Matias's Final Thoughts

It was fabulous to have the opportunity to speak with Riverhounds Centre Back Skylar Thomas! Having had the chance to have watched him play while he was with Valour, I was able to see the significant contributions he has made to his community through his business KickDeck and using his passion for the game to inspire others to play. Especially considering he was able to inspire the next generation by simply playing in his hometown the sky is the limit for his ability to impact grassroots soccer globally! 

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