Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kourtny Thomas Steps Into Justin's World

Kourtny Thomas made her collegiate softball debut as a part of the #1-ranked signing class in 2011. Joining Ralph & Karen Weekly's Lady Vols alongside the likes of Melissa Davin, Tory Lewis, Madison Shipman, Ellen Renfroe, Ashley Holmes, and Chelsea O'Connor, Thomas' tenure on Rocky Top was short-lived.

Photo cred: Southern Conference via Facebook
Spending just a single season in orange and white, and appearing in just eight games during that year, Thomas fell behind Shipman on the depth chart and rarely saw action. A perfect fielding record in a couple-dozen opportunities were the sole bright spot of her freshman campaign.

Following a transfer to Georgia Southern, Thomas began to thrive immediately. Clubbing seven home runs, good enough for second-best on the squad, in her first year in Statesboro, Thomas continued on a hot streak as her career continued, adding twenty-six roundtrippers over her final two seasons and driving in sixty-nine runs over the same period.

A two-time first-team all-conference selection, Thomas finished her career just two home runs shy of the Eagles' school record. She also added an all-conference-tournament award to her trophy case in 2013.

Kourtny isn't on Twitter, but you can find her on Facebook here.

How did you get your start playing softball? How old were you when you began playing?
I started playing baseball when I was younger, and when I was about 9 my father made me switch to softball. At first I hated it, in all honesty, but once I made it to the end of the season, I was in love with the game.

Did you play any other sports growing up, or was softball your main focus?

 I played every sport. I played baseball, softball, tennis, soccer, basketball, swimming and even football. When I was a sophomore in high school, I started focusing on one sport, but I still continued to play basketball.

When it came time to pick a school to continue your career, you originally chose Tennessee. Why did you want to become a Lady Vol?
I wanted to become a Lady Vol because when I was about 11 years old, I watched Ralph and Karen coaching on television and I thought it would be awesome to play in Tennessee orange. My father told me I could do anything I put my mind to, so I wanted to make my dream come into a reality.

After being part of an uber-talented freshman class, you transferred to Georgia Southern. What factored in to you making that move?
I wasn't happy; I hated that we played softball because we had to, not because we loved to. It wasn't fun anymore and as far as I am concerned, it should always be about having fun. It's not like you can truly play professionally so you can't compare college baseball to college softball. In baseball, you play because you are working on getting drafted. In softball, you play your four years and maybe play softball for one of the NPF teams in the short summer or go play overseas. My heart was in softball to have fun, not to end up hating the game I grew up loving. The girls were great, especially the class I came in with, but I think out of seven only three stayed [[Editor’s Note: Four members of Kourtny’s class actually stayed at Tennessee]]. I applaud them; it's a tough life to live. The school just wasn't for me, but that doesn't mean it's not for other girls. The team and coaching staff is amazing.

Is there any one thing, whether it be a tournament, a game, playing with a certain player, that you wish you could have had the opportunity to experience?
Not really. I do wish I could play with Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson, or Chipper Jones but obviously that's not going to happen.

If you had to pick one moment or one play from your career as your favorite , what memory would it be?
The walk-off home run to win the SoCon championship [in 2013]. That was pretty amazing.

If you can, describe what it was like for you when the final out was recorded in your last game and it hit you that your career was done. What was that moment like?
I remember being on deck with two outs. It was tough, not because I was going to miss it but because of my parents. They were more in love with it than I was at times. They enjoyed traveling and watching me play in 10 degree weather or even 100 degree weather. Rain or shine, I could always count on them being there. It was a special bond we had and it's not like it's the only thing that kept us together, but it was really special. So when I looked up in the stands and saw my father trying to hold back tears, it was tough. I won't forget that day in the pouring rain.

Now that your career is done, what are your plans, both as far as your career and remaining involved in the game of softball? Is coaching at some level something you would like to do?
I wouldn't mind coaching, but it's not my dream. I am finishing up my sport management degree and I currently work for a marketing company so my future is starting to come together, I hope.

If you could sit down and have dinner with any three people from history, who would they be and why?
1. Charles Darwin, because I do not think he was even close to done with all his theories and findings. I am sure he could still teach us a lot.
2. Amerigo Vespucci, basically because I want to know how it felt to discover a new land that is now our wonderful country. He probably didn't even know how important that discovery was.
3. Lastly, probably Einstein. I would just want to tell him and show him all of the inventions and futuristic things we have. Even his mind would be blown!

Let’s say you were stranded on a deserted island, but could take three things with you. No boats, no phones. What would you take?
I would take my dog Ellie because I love her. A fishing pole because I love fishing and probably a camera so someone will find my recordings one day.

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