It was hard to see Maddie Thomas trade her Banks County Leopards blue for the Cherokee Bluff Lady Bears purple, but the point guard relishes her new venture for the brand new Flowery Branch school for her senior year.
It’s hard for any student to be uprooted to go to a new school, especially being your final year.
“I didn’t know until the end of the school year,” says Thomas on when she found out about making the move. “My parents felt like it was best to take on a new opportunity. I also have a little brother who is an upcoming sophomore that has opportunities my parents had to think of as well.”
With the move comes nervousness as well as excitement.
“It took a few weeks to adjust to being in a suburban area and getting the feel a of new city and school,” Thomas adds. “But I’m excited for the new opportunity and I love where I am. I met my coach when I went to look at the school, and I met all my teammates at a shoot-a-thon fundraising event where the boys team and girls team were together. I was really nervous at first because I didn’t know what to expect, but then I instantly had a connection to the girls and by the end of the night I felt like I had known them for years.”
THE ROLE AND OUTLOOK
Thomas, as a senior point guard, will likely take on a large leadership role, and will be counted on to lead by example as well. It’s no surprise that people look at the new program and wonder if it will take awhile to build into a legitimate contender.
“We all walk into the gym every day for practice ready to work hard and give it all we got,” states Thomas. “We know a lot of other people are looking at us and not thinking much, but that just gives every single one of us more motivation to work harder then the day before. That’s what our coach expects of us. If we work hard, continue to grow together, play as one, and individually give it our all; I think we have a chance at making a run at state. The talent is there, it’s up to us what we do with it.”
While the pressure is on, Thomas embraces the situation she’s in.
“My role this year as one out of two seniors will be to help us win a region championship, and make my coaches, teammates and community proud,” says Thomas. “I want to do my best to be one of the leaders of the team and help control the game when I need to. I also want to make this a fun year for the younger girls and I want to be a team player and the glue that helps hold us together in the tough times.”
THE WORK & RECRUITMENT
“I have been working on my speed off the dribble the most,” says Thomas, who last year for the Banks County Lady Leopards helped set the pace for an Elite 8 team. “I want to be faster when driving to the hole from the wing or even running point guard and getting down the floor in fewer dribbles.”
In 2017-18, Thomas averaged 12 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists per game. She shot 67% from the charity stripe and 47% from the floor.
Thomas began turning heads during last season for Banks County, proving to be an electrifying player who could score from long distance, mid-range and inside the paint, and her game was completed by precision passing and solid free throw shooting. But she already has her mind made up on where she’s going from here.
“I talked to a few colleges over this past year and found interest in a few and I can’t thank them enough for having interest in me, but I have made my final decision on where I want to spend the next four years playing college basketball,” says Thomas. “I will officially be committing in a few weeks.”
“Being in a new program is filled with so many new opportunities,” adds Thomas. “I loved the summer and getting to know all my new teammates. The opportunities for setting new records is great and of course I hope I set some, but I’m reaching for higher goals. I want to be the first Cherokee Bluff girls basketball team to have a winning record, region championship, and make it to the state playoffs. Those are the goals most important to me. I want the younger girls to have something to always remember and I want them to have a chance to have the same mentality, but be better than the year before and hopefully beat some of the goals and be state champions.”
With an outlook like that, Thomas and Cherokee Bluff are bound to find success. And that success goes outside the lines, as best said by Thomas.
“This is much like life where changes occur that you aren’t in control of and you have to adapt to be your best in those situations.”