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Photo by Tina Wallace

A Gee-Gees hoop player’s perspective on being a father and a budding superstar

If his name is not familiar to you yet, you can be assured it will be soon.

At a large university, there are bound to be times where the people you pass are mere faces in a crowd, unidentifiable and unknown. Other times you can be lucky enough to meet someone that is a truly genuine, hardworking, honest, polite and determined person. Thomas, a now record-breaking fourth-year Gee-Gees basketball player, has proven he is the embodiment of every one of those characteristics.

Thomas may be in the later stages of his academic career, but he is a newcomer to the University of Ottawa. Previously, he was an all-Canadian forward at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. He’s a self-proclaimed “country boy,” having spent his childhood growing up on a farm, less than 30 minutes from Halifax in the rural community of East Preston, N.S.

Issues arose during his time starring at St. FX which ultimately led to his parting with the team. He moved on, deciding to bring his talents to Ottawa and become a Gee-Gee.

“My mindset is that you learn every day,” said Thomas. “Life is a learning curve. I’m not perfect and I’ve made my mistakes. I feel like by not giving up and staying at it, I’m showing my ambition to be here and enjoy the game I love.”

Thomas joined the Gee-Gees after teammates Matt and Jeff Plunkett heard about his situation with St. FX and encouraged him to move in-land. They’ve been friends for quite a while but never met up until Thomas came to Ottawa. Now, he has helped the Gee-Gees, the second-ranked team in Canada, by adding veteran experience and leadership.

“I play with my heart, and I think that can be contagious,” he said. “When other people see that you leave it all on the floor, they want to do the same. If not, I will try to encourage them to.”

His caring and hard work extends much further than the court. One thing that many people don’t know is that on top of being a star basketball player and a student, Thomas is also a dedicated father of an 18-month-old daughter. His eyes light up when he speaks about her and what she means to him.

“She is my number-one fan,” he said. “We are really close, we FaceTime every day and she comes down to visit. She gives me ambition and motivation to pursue my dreams and help her live the best life she can live.”

Juggling academics, basketball, and fatherhood is not an easy task, but Thomas manages. He says it takes “a lot of focus and a lot of balance,” and that he has to “find a time and place for everything. You might have a much busier schedule but you can work to maintain it.”

Family plays a massive role in Thomas’ life. He said the significance of his father and the impact he’s played in his life is his biggest inspiration.

“He taught me about my pride and how to become a man,” he said. “He taught me to always humble myself, and I think he did a good job helping turn me into the man I am today.”

Thomas has made deep connections to Ottawa in his short time here. With his record-breaking 44-point game on Feb. 8, he became a member of the Gee-Gees’ history books. He is proud of his accomplishment but gives extensive credit to his teammates for the record. He said he is also excited to see the next generation come and challenge his record.

The Gees are shaping up to fight for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national championship that will be held in March at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. Thomas is looking forward to the challenge as well as the opportunity to bring a national championship to the U of O for the first time.

“It would be amazing,” he said. “I couldn’t put words together to describe the feeling.” Thomas has never won a championship and expressed how honoured he would be to help bring one home for his teammates and himself.

“At the end of the day, individual stats only last for so long,” Thomas added. “I don’t want to be known for that. I want to be known for bringing a national championship to the University of Ottawa.”

“It would be breathtaking,” he added. “Like my dad always tells me, always go 100 per cent because you never know who is watching.”

If he keeps up his current pace, soon everyone will be watching.