‘Be your best’: David Thomas praises coaches’ help
David Thomas, a tight end and fullback for the New Orleans Saints and former Frenship High School football player, gave kudos to coaches he has had since he was a small child — including his dad, former Frenship Superintendent John Thomas.
“The first coach I had in my life was my dad,” Thomas, 28, told an estimated 500 people at the 16th Outback Boys & Girls Club Dinner at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center last week.
He was the keynote speaker for the event.
The event featured a live auction of New Orleans Saints memorabilia, a signed jersey from Pittsburgh Steeler and former Texas Tech football player Baron Batch and Tech tickets and memorabilia.zorb balls for sale
Thomas said his dad started him in sports, joking that some people may have thought it was child abuse when his dad would hand off the ball, let him run about 10 yards, then tackle him.
While his dad taught him the fundamentals of sports including football, baseball, basketball and tennis, he also taught Thomas sportsmanship.
Thomas said when he threw his helmet in frustration during a baseball game, his dad took him home to talk about sportsmanship.
Most importantly, he said, John Thomas taught him about work ethic and to keep pushing.
“Always push yourself to be the best you can be,” Thomas told the audience at the Civic Center, specifically addressing the message to about 100 Boys & Girls Club members attending. “If better’s possible, good is not enough.”
Coach Don Black at Frenship drilled that message into Thomas, the pro football player said.
“Coach Black, he touched me in a way he probably doesn’t know,” Thomas said. He said a conversation he had in eighth grade with Black was probably the most important conversation they had together.
When Thomas coasted through an 800-meter run because he didn’t want to be a distance runner, Black took him aside.
“He talked to me about the potential I had,” Thomas said, adding he took the message to heart. “He believed in me. He saw things I didn’t see in myself.”
Thomas encouraged the young people in the audience to always believe in themselves, a message he heard from Black.
The pro football player acknowledged many of the people in the audience were bigger fans of Texas Tech than of the University of Texas, where he went to school.
But he gave Mack Brown kudos for his guidance while at UT, saying Brown treated everyone he saw with respect.
After the Longhorns won the National Championship in 2006, Thomas said Brown spoke to the team in the locker room.
“He told us, ‘Don’t let this be the greatest thing you ever do in life,’” Thomas said.
When Thomas started his career with the New England Patriots after being selected in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft, he played under coach Bill Belichick.
“I probably learned more football from him” than from any other coach, Thomas said.
But he said he also learned more “interesting uses of language” from Belichick.
Thomas said the biggest lesson Belichick taught him was to simply do his job, and trust others to do theirs.
When Thomas was traded to the New Orleans Saints in 2009, he picked up a Super Bowl ring later that season.
The lesson he learned from Saints coach Sean Payton was in the form of a poem the coach put in the players’ lockers after they lost their third game that season.
Thomas said he still has a copy of that poem, “The Man in the Glass,” by Dale Wimbrow, in his locker. He read it and told the children at the dinner they should put everything into their efforts and have no regrets.
After the Boys & Girls Club dinner, Thomas said he still goes by Frenship High School when he is in town to visit with his old coaches and current players.
“I still work out at the facility when I’m in town,” Thomas said.
He said he enjoyed the opportunity to speak at the dinner, but still can hardly believe it’s happening.
“I don’t think of myself as someone who should be doing this,” he said.
His former junior high school coach, Don Black, was at the dinner and said he usually goes to New Orleans to watch his former student at least once a year.
“David and I are really good friends,” Black said, and in response to the shout out from Thomas, he said he hopes he did help him out as a student years ago.
“The best thing about David is, he’s a great, great man and a great Christian man,” Black said.
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