Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

June 15, 2012

Stewart Thomas excited to be new leader of Lowndes softball

VALDOSTA — Stewart Thomas is exactly where he wants to be. The former Valdosta State baseball player turned coach and educator is back in South Georgia.

Thomas was hired as the new softball coach at Lowndes High School in May, and on Thursday he admitted that he doesn’t want to be anywhere else, calling his new coaching and teaching job a “dream.”

“It has all been God,” Thomas said. “He has done everything.”

Prior to coming to Lowndes, Thomas was the head softball coach at Walton and McEachern High Schools, where he says he was content.

While coaching, most recently, at Walton High School was good, Thomas said he always wanted to come back to South Georgia. After all, his wife, Deaven Hadsock Thomas, is originally from Lanier County and much of her family still resides there.

“We didn’t have any family up there, and it was good to get away and start our own thing, but it is definitely nice to get back here near family,” Thomas said.

 But when the Lowndes coaching position came open, Thomas said he wasn’t looking for a new job, until a call from newly hired Lowndes principal Jaybez “Jay” Frank Floyd made him start to rethink his options.

At first, Floyd was calling Thomas to see if he knew anyone interested in the Vikettes’ coaching vacancy. Thomas told Floyd he “might” be interested, but everything would have to fall into place.

“Mr. Floyd and I sat down and talked and everything was great,” Thomas said. “We formed a great relationship from the first conversation over the phone. But I told him that everything would have to work out perfectly for me to come down there.”

Thomas would have to be able to sell his home in Canton, a social studies teaching position would have to be available and a teaching position for his wife would also have to be available.

After a few phone calls, Floyd informed Thomas that teaching positions were open and that he and his wife would have teaching jobs in the Lowndes County School Systems.

“It seemed like it was all falling into place,” Thomas said. “The elephant in the room was the house.”

With the sale of his house being the only thing standing in the way of accepting his dream job at Lowndes, Thomas placed his house on the market. That is when things got interesting.

 Initially, Thomas was attempted to sell the estate by himself, but there was no interest. So, Thomas and his wife called a Realtor, who took pictures of the house and was set to place it onto the market.

Then just hours before signing with the Realtor, Thomas’ phone rang. On the other line was a young couple interested in purchasing the house. After looking at the place, the young couple called back the following day ready to make an offer.

“We were going to sign the papers with the Realtor Saturday afternoon, and on Saturday morning we received a phone call from a young couple, first-time home buyers, and they said they were interested in buying the house,” Thomas said. “The next day they called us and told us they were interested and they put an offer in. And that is what I am saying, everything was just meant for me to be here. It had to be divine, without a doubt. There is no reason, economically, that our house should have sold.”

With his house sold and jobs available, Thomas and his wife made the move back down South. The two and their 10-month old baby were back home.

For Thomas, the completing the move back to Valdosta meant one thing: it was time to get to work leading the back-to-back Region 1-AAAAA champion Vikettes.

“There is always pressure, but if you are a competitor, you always want that pressure,” Thomas said. “When I played baseball and when I started coaching, that is the pressure you always wanted because that means success is going to follow.”

Thomas knows that the pressure will always be there. After all, he is now a coach at Lowndes High School, a place where athletic success isn’t measured by wins and losses but by the number of championships won.

“I try not to think about that,” Thomas said. “All I can do is my best and I expect the girls to do the same. And that is all you control. Lowndes athletics surpasses anything in the state. I don’t look at it as pressure. I look at it as an opportunity to carry on something that has already started to be established and to possibly take it to a new level. But again, I look at it as an opportunity to do something special.”

Much like newly hired Valdosta coach Samantha Luke, Thomas said he plans on building a relationship with Valdosta State head coach Thomas Macera and that he plans on utilizing Macera’s knowledge to learn the game.

 “Without a doubt, I hope to have a great relationship with Coach Macera” Thomas said. “When you think you know all of this game, you are going backwards. So with someone just down the street who has won a national championship, conference titles, I think it is going to be great to build a relationship with him and to just feed off of him and the excitement that Valdosta State has brought to this area with softball. I mean we had girls on the first day come up with a Valdosta State softball national championship shirt on, so it just shows the excitement this area has.”

A former baseball standout at Gordon College and VSU, Thomas said he learned the game of softball through his father, who is credited with getting the program at Dublin High School up and running. Thomas began coaching the game of softball his first year out of college when he was hired at McEachern High School.

“It was a fortunate situation, I was hired to be an assistant baseball coach and the softball coach had resigned a couple months before, so they asked me if I was interested,” Thomas said. “They took a chance on me and it became my passion. The game, itself, became my passion and I began to love the game of softball. I just dove into it and here I am.”

While off the field Thomas is calm and collected, he admits that his coaching style on the field is “intense”.

“I’m definitely intense,” Thomas said. “There are going to be very high expectations on the girls. We are going to play the game right, with integrity and hard.”

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