Even in the off-season, there is little rest for coaches and players who are involved in high school football, basketball, baseball and softball.
Preparation is the key to success and Coach Michael Thomas began preparing for his 30th year as head basketball coach at Thomson High School as soon as his season ended last February.
On May 19, the last day of school for students, the 38 players currently in his program began practicing for summer league play. Through June, they practiced or played six days a week in preparation for next season.
Thomas has 38 players in his basketball program. The varsity team, led by seven returning veterans and seven newcomers, usually practiced on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday while playing scrimmage games against other high school teams from all over the state on Mondays and Wednesdays.
While success in the summer doesn't always convert to championship seasons in the winter, there is reason for optimism on the hardwood for the Bulldogs this year. Led by seven returning varsity players Jonathan Adkins, Ronkeem Sallywhite, BiQuavious Sturgis, Antonio Coleman, Anthony Moss, Jemonta Beard and DeWayne Williams, the Dogs won 22 games and lost only two this summer.
Thomas admits that this outstanding record could be somewhat misleading because teams don't have all their players for every game.
For instance, Adkins, the center, missed both Bulldog losses attending football camps. He is expected to sign a football scholarship with a Division 1 school in February and has several offers from colleges throughout the Southeast. Some Bulldog opponents were missing players in our victories, too.
Considering Thomas' strategy in these games, the 22-2 record is still outstanding. He attempted to play all 14 players on his varsity roster in the first half.
Then, Thomas went with his best lineup in the second half in order to try to seal the win.
Thomas knows he has to give the seven new players on his roster experience in game situations because he will, at some point during the season, need these players to contribute.
Injuries and foul trouble mean that substitutes must give quality minutes in order for the Dogs to have a successful season in what is a very tough basketball region.
Glenn Hills, Butler, Washington County and Richmond Academy are perennial contenders for the state title. In our region, it's tough just to make the state playoffs.
Coach Thomas cited the play of Sallywhite and Adkins during the summer and said that Sturgis has shown tremendous versatility because he is able to play various positions for the Dogs.
When asked what players provided pleasant surprises this summer after spending last season as JV players, Thomas quickly mentioned rising sophomores Felton Hatcher and Ryan Kelley who can play either of the wing positions.
The mix of veterans and untested youth should make for an interesting season for the Bulldogs. Official practice begins Oct. 26. One thing the Bulldogs have as an advantage is having Thomas guiding them from the bench. Few teams in the state have a coach with his experience or record of achievement. Go Dogs!