WORTHINGTON -- Homecoming king. Soccer player. Smooth-swinging baseball player. Worthington High School senior Isaiah Noble is a multi-talented athlete and obviously popular in his school. But what really sets him apart, one might argue, is the way he uses his head.
Soccer players, of course, are not allowed to use their hands on the field of play. That makes their heads part of the repertoire used to direct the ball this way and that.
Noble, a defender, is unusually gifted that way. Rarely has a soccer player been able to squarely make contact the way Noble does. The force of his head butting the soccer ball -- and the accuracy he so regularly attains -- appears to make the ball react almost any way he wants it to, all the time. He sends it left, sends it right, sends it on ahead, sends it careening back to where it came from. And he’s uncannily consistent.
How? One theory might come from baseball. Noble is an outfielder well-known for his ability to call on a sixth sense when moving to a batted ball in his direction. It’s the same trick for soccer, except instead of catching it in his glove he catches it on his noggin.
“I would say that I’ve developed my header skills since my freshman year,” he explains. “When I first started playing soccer, that’s what I relied on … when I was still developing my feet skills. So I’ve been doing it for a while. Now I’m more used to that. And I can kind of tell where it’s going and just use my head. It doesn’t hurt too much, so now I’m kind of used to it.”
Noble played fall football until the seventh grade, then he switched to soccer. As a boys soccer player, he has helped make Worthington High School a southwest Minnesota power and the odds-on favorite this year to represent its section in the state tournament.
Recently, he represented WHS as the Homecoming King as part of a court heavily represented with soccer players. While we wouldn’t say that boys soccer is king in Worthington, no other fall sport has won so consistently in recent years.
The Trojans, who were undefeated at the time, barely missed qualifying for the state tourney last year by losing in overtime in the section finals. This year, concurs Noble, the team’s goal is once again to make the big tournament.
QUESTION: Was it a surprise to be crowned Homecoming King?
ANSWER: “Yes, I was surprised at being Homecoming King. I was not expecting it, no. I was really excited after I got picked to be it, and I was really excited during the whole week, too, for the court. All of the boys in the court were on our soccer team, which is really fun to be with a great group of guys. And then getting it was really surprising. It was fun to be a part of it.
“Yeah, I did get teased a little bit at practice and at school about being Homecoming King, and before the games, by the other players. Every once in a while they’d say ‘King Isaiah’, or when we were doing a pass back and forth they would say ‘King Isaiah.’ Kind of just joking around like that.”
QUESTION: Tell us something unusual about you that most people might not know.
ANSWER: “Something that’s unusual about me is that I’ve actually seen all 597 episodes of ‘Survivor.’ And I’ve spent a lot of time watching the show. Hopefully, I’ll get to go on it one day.”
QUESTION: What are some of your interests outside of sports?
ANSWER: “Outside of sports I would say one of my biggest interests would be wildlife or zoology. I plan on going and pursuing a career in something in that area.”