Coach Thomas VSU Hall of Fame

Posted on 02/17/2023

by Terri Miles Moody

   In addition to his titles as basketball coach, assistant principal and CTE director, Mr. John Thomas, Jr., can now add Hall of Famer to his resumé. Coach Thomas was inducted into the Virginia State University Hall of Fame on Friday, Feb. 3, an event he said “is a blessing.”

   “Looking back on the many obstacles I overcame in my life to achieve this great honor, it is truly amazing that I was able to receive these accolades,” said Coach Thomas.

   During his time as a VSU basketball player, Coach Thomas was part of a team that won its division three years and claimed the title of conference champions. As a basketball coach of 38 years, he has led teams of both boys and girls on both the high school and college level. He also coached baseball.

  “I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with an outstanding colleague and, more importantly, a friend,” said Mr. Gerald Carsley, director of student activities. “VSU chose a wonderful person to represent their university with this prestigious honor.”

   Mr. Correy Watkins, JV boys’ basketball coach and English 9 collaborative teacher, also believes the honor is well deserved.

   “Coach Thomas as the varisty boys’ basketball coach is an outstanding mentor and teacher of life and basketball,” said Coach Watkins. “The students benefit from his talks, kind spirit and willingness to be a key figure in their lives. He teaches that hard work and commitment can bring success. Coach Thomas never misses and will give the shirt off of his back so our students will never miss out.”

   Mrs. Vanessa Thomas, Coach Thomas’s wife and English 11 collaborative teacher, also notices her husband’s commitment to improving his players’ lives and teaching them how to grow as individuals.

   “I’m proud of Coach because he gets to do what he loves -- what he’s passionate about,” said Mrs. Thomas. “I’m proud of the impact that he makes on his players on and off the court. Yes, he’s interested in teaching his players basketball skills, and yes, he wants to see them win games. However, he’s most interested in teaching them about the game of life -- how to be successful, how to be a productive man, how persevere and never give up. I’m proud of him because he genuinely cares about his team.  He’s always trying to figure out how to help them improve. It makes me very proud to know that he never puts his team down. He always lifts them up.”

   Coach Watkins believes that Coach Thomas’s influence extends beyond the CHHS gym and his own players.

   “Coach Thomas has left an imprint in every place he’s touched,” said Coach Watkins. “He deserves all the flowers. Standing beside Coach and watching how people light up when we visit other schools solidifies his imprint.”

   Basketball isn’t just about drills and skills; Coach Thomas believes student-athletes develop character traits that will help them succeed in life.

   “Sports teaches athletes so many things about life,” said Coach Thomas. “Discipline, organization, team work, confidence, problem solving and so many other qualities are learned through athletics.”

   After his players have suited up for the last time and played their last high school basketball game, Coach Thomas hopes he has prepared them to achieve their lifetime goals.

   “I want them to walk across the stage as seniors recognizing that they are well prepared for life,” said Coach Thomas.

   Mrs. Thomas knows that the time her husband has invested in his players has reaped rewards.

   “Coach has made an impact on many of his former players -- high school and college,” said Mrs. Thomas. “He has formed life-long relationships with a lot of them. Some of his former players contact him regularly to see how he’s doing, some pay him visits and introduce him to their newly formed family, and some even call to get his ‘handyman’ advice, as well as words of wisdom. Coach is and always has been a teacher, father figure to some and an encourager. He’s one of a kind in my book.”

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