lives by the sports axiom that defense wins championships.
During his four years as a starting defenseman on the Fort Gibson (Fort Gibson, Okla.)
boys soccer team, Cummings played an integral role in helping tally 32 shutouts.
In his junior and senior seasons, he was a part of 21 shutouts, which included not giving up a single goal in the final games of both seasons. Yes, Fort Gibson pitched goose eggs in the Class 4A state championships matches to claim back-to-back state titles.
The team's defense was special. And Cummings was a big reason why the Tigers flourished.
"He did everything in the back for me," Fort Gibson boys soccer coach Todd Friend said. "He's really fast and creative. He's a great player."
Cummings left his mark on the Tigers boys soccer program before graduating on May 18. Notching those 32 shutouts in his varsity career makes Cummings feel like he made a big difference for his team.
"That's a big accomplishment for me," Cummings said. "I didn't know I had that many shutouts. I kind of just get to play and hope for the best. That's amazing to get to hear that."
It's the team shutouts and team championships that Cummings cherishes the most. With all the team success, individual accolades naturally came rolling in throughout his career. Cummings was named all-district in his final two seasons and to the all-Phoenix team — named by the Muskogee Phoenix newspaper — three times. He capped off his senior year by earning All-State — an honor set aside only for seniors — and played in a special All-State match on June 9.
Defenders don't often get much praise, something Cummings never concerned himself with. From Day 1 picking up the sport as a 4-year-old, Cummings has known his role. He's embraced the unsung hero aspect of playing defense.
"When I was little, nobody wanted to play defense for some reason," Cummings said. "So, I was like, ‘OK, I'll give it a try.' It feels good I'm there to protect the goal from the other team and give us a chance to get ahead and get a shutout."
Added Friend: "He doesn't care to get goals. He doesn't care to get assists or anything like that. He just doesn't want to get scored on."
One big reason why Cummings was such a good high school defender was his speed. He would utilize it all over the field.
"If a guy ever beats us one-on-one, he tracks him down," Friend said. "He'll track down the speedy forwards quick. He controls the back line because he's a center back and he's got really good foot skills for his position."
"I guess I just know how to use it," said Cummings about his speed. "There's certain ways people touch the ball when they run and I kind of just wait until the right time. Sometimes they usually take a little farther touch than usual and I'm able to catch that with my speed."
Cummings, who was effective as an offensive player when given a shot to possess the ball, finished his career with seven goals and eight assists. He saw a rapid progression from himself throughout his varsity campaign.
"My passing was increased," Cummings said. "I'm not a shooter, but I did get to take some shots. So, shooting and just the touch on the ball — it changed drastically over the past four years."
Becoming a leader as an upperclassman was also part of the progression Friend saw from his phenomenal defenseman. The coach would watch Cummings take the young players under his wing and teach them the ropes.
As a solid player on and off the field, Cummings had the respect of his teammates to be named a captain in his final two years.
"How we do captains is they're voted on by the team," Friend said. "That tells you there is respect the team has for him and what kind of kid he is, what kind of player he is, the kind of character he has. That's kind of the high nod for me that if your teammates care about you that much and they feel like you're the guy that should lead them and nominate you for that and vote you in, that's pretty high praise."
Along with playing soccer, Cummings was a member of the football and wrestling teams during his time at Fort Gibson. His dad was a football player and his uncles wrestled, so playing multiple sports trickled down the family tree.
Cummings played wide receiver and linebacker on the football team his first three years but decided not to go out for the team as a senior. He had a productive one season on the wrestling team, making it to state as a freshman. However, Cummings tore his meniscus during the year, had to have surgery and didn't go out for the sport again. He also had a one-year stint on the cheer team for basketball.
Cummings loves competing in sports, but soccer has always been his favorite. It's been his goal to play soccer at the collegiate level and he'll live out his dream at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Okla. The 19-year-old will walk on to the Division II school but get a shot at a soccer scholarship during a tryout in early August.
"I'm really excited to keep going on my soccer career," Cummings said.
Sports took up a large chunk of Cummings' time during high school, but it didn't deter him from excelling in the classroom. He finished with a 3.7 grade point average and took some college courses at Connors State College in nearby Warner, Okla.
As a junior, Cummings was chosen as a Boys State representative from Fort Gibson. He loved getting the shot to learn about government and relished in drafting bills and trying to get them passed.
"It was a great time to get to go and learn about the state and what all we do," Cummings said.
Cummings, who was student council king as a senior, was extremely active in clubs at his school; he took part in National Honor Society, History Club, Spanish Club, Soccer Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
He was also busy with volunteer opportunities including cleanup projects and serving food at homeless shelters.
Coach Friend calls Cummings a good kid with solid character, which was on full display during a team soccer trip to Tennessee in March. Friend recalls being in a convenience store and watching Cummings buy items for the people behind him.
"He has a job, does a lot of things with his church," Friend said. "He's a well-rounded kid. … He's great in the classroom and outside of the classroom, he's a great kid. He's one of those kinds of kids that if people are walking in a restaurant or something, he's going to open the door and hold the door open for people. He's going to pay it forward to people."
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