January 28, 2007
Valdosta -- There's been one constant at Valdosta State for the past forty years, and that's Blazers baseball coach Tommy Thomas.
Thomas has been a fixture on the VSU bench since before some of his current players parents were born, and is stepping down after this season.
The Valdosta State hall-of-famer has brought a lot of success to the school in his time with the Blazers.
Valdosta State's Tommy Thomas is the winningest baseball coach in NCAA Division II history, earning victory #1,199 back in 2003, and this will be his final season on the Blazers bench.
"It's my last season after 40," says Thomas. "That almost sounds unbelievable."
Thomas says the decision to step down was building up over time.
"They say, and I think justifiably so, that I'd been saying I was going to retire each year for the last ten years. It's true, and when I said it, I meant it, but when the time came for a definite decision, I got cold feet. I couldn't do it."
Senior first baseman Justin Hill says they're looking to make this a great final season for Thomas.
"Everybody's here to win," says Hill. "Put up a good year, and go for a national championship. Hopefully send him out on a good note."
The Blazers have twelve seniors listed on their roster, but the coach says there's one more.
"Basically I have referred to myself as a senior, and I put myself in the same category as all the other seniors on the team," says Thomas. "This is it for us."
Thomas says his final season is starting out the same, but the ending will be different.
"I'm sure when that final week rolls around, there might be a few tears shed. They'll be some sentimentality," says Thomas.
Thomas won the schools first national championship in 1979.
Valdosta State opens its season Friday with a double-header at home against Lynn University.