The success of Savannah
By Chris Miles
Jonathan Alder girls soccer coach Dan Brady has a pretty detailed checklist of characteristics in which he ultimately believes every successful student-athlete should strive to achieve.
He has at least one player on his roster who meets or exceeds every single one of them in senior standout Savannah Thomas.
The talented striker is currently in her fourth year as a starter on the Pioneers girls squad and a key cog to the team’s success. But the two-time All-District performer is far more than just another student-athlete.
“You couldn’t find a better young lady than Savannah,” Brady said. “She basically scores highly in all four of my core categories.”
• Performance. “Skill-wise she is very gifted.”
• Work Rate. “She has an unbelievable work ethic. She never complains and always work incredibly hard.”
• Attitude. “She always has a great attitude and has got a great gift of leadership. She has been a two-year captain for us and has the respect of all of her teammates.”
• Attendance. “She never misses anything. She’d have to be on her death bed in order to miss a team event.”
Thomas is driven and dedicated and credits the direction she got from her parents Ron and Crissy Thomas as the reason for her success.
“Both of my parents pushed me to be my very best from a really young age,” Savannah said. “I started playing soccer and immediately fell in love with it. There’s something special about having goals and achieving them, whether it’s on a soccer field or in the classroom.”
It should come as no surprise that Thomas also excels academically, even though her hectic schedule doesn’t allow for much free time.
“I have school and then practice,” she said. “I come home and eat with the family and then I’ll work on homework. I usually don’t get a lot of relaxing time but that’s OK.”
When she finally leaves the Alder soccer program after this fall, she will do so after scoring more than 40 goals and collecting more than 30 assists in her career. But the coach said it’s the intangibles that Thomas brings to the table that will truly be missed
“It’s a tremendous benefit to have a player like her on your team,” Brady said. “One of things I look forward to seeing is when a game gets tight and things get intense, she takes it upon herself to be the one to calm the other players down, especially the young ones.”
It wasn’t too long ago when Brady had a bright-eyed freshman in Thomas who surprisingly enough wasn’t overwhelmed with the task of going from playing against eighth-graders to competing against varsity high school athletes.
“There’s always a growing process that kids go through, but she came in with a built-in confidence,” Brady said. “She’s always been a pretty confident student-athlete.”
Thomas said just like everything else her confidence comes from her upbringing. From being pushed at a young age to do her very best no matter what it may be, she knows she can be successful as long as she applies herself.
“It makes you feel good about yourself when you do something well,” she said. “I try and stay positive and always try my best in everything I do.”
In addition to being a force on the soccer field, Thomas is also a sprinter on the Pioneers track and field team in the spring and a stat girl on the wrestling squad in the winter where her grandfather Ron Thomas Sr. (head coach) and father Ron Jr. (assistant coach) are in charge.
Being around tough, hard-nosed wrestlers has had a positive impact on Thomas, who says she’s learned a lot about mental toughness and work ethic just by being around the Alder wrestlers.
“Just seeing what those wrestlers go through and seeing how hard they work makes me want to work that much harder,” she said. “My dad won state’s his senior year in wrestling, that makes mw want to do something great.”
Thomas hopes to play soccer in college, but as of right now doesn’t have an offer or a place to play.
“I’ve played the sport so long that I don’t know what I would do without it,” she said. “I’m looking at as many in-state colleges as I can, but I haven’t gotten any offers yet.”
There’s no doubt in her coach’s mind that she will ultimately find a place to play at the next level.
“When you bundle up all of her accolades and all of the things she brings to the table,” Brady said, “there’s no question she’s going to be well-prepared for college.”