By Linda Ong
Sponsored for the seventh year by the Terrier Football Alumni Association of Redlands High School, the prestigious award is given to former athletes, coaches, or those who have completed community service to the athletic department of Redlands High School, who have reached high athletic achievement worthy of recognition. To this day, Thomas is the only African American to be inducted into the Redlands High School Hall of Fame.
"It is such an honor to be selected to the Hall of Fame," commented Thomas. "It feels great to be recognized for my achievements."
Thomas began his athletic career excelling in football, baseball, and basketball at Redlands High School until his graduation year of 1959 and then pursued his dreams at Hancock Junior College, Oregon State University, and then finally the University of California, Riverside. Struck by an amazing opportunity, Thomas was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys and played for the team in 1963.
Although Thomas' athletic career seemed to slow down after this point, he didn't halt his involvement in sports. It was at this point when Thomas decided to begin coaching, which he pursued at the levels of both the community, as a volunteer coach for the Junior All-American Football of Redlands and Pop Warner Football of the San Fernando Valley, and professionally, as a football coach for the University of Redlands. Thomas was also the first head African American football coach at Alemany High School. Thomas also volunteered as a coach for the Redlands Recreation League girls' fast-pitch softball and was so successful that he was offered to coach for Redlands High School.
Despite his naturally talent in both the playing and coaching aspect of sports, Thomas has perhaps the most valuable words of wisdom for youth aspiring to follow his footsteps to become future collegiate and/or professional athletes.
"The most important thing is to make sure you start with good grades in school. Alongside this, if you enjoy your sport, have support from your family, and get a good coach, you can use your athletic talent to give you more opportunities to a better education in college. You don't want to be dependent on your sport," said Thomas. "If you continue to excel in both academics and athletics, you can pursue your athletic abilities and go professional."
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