Jill Thomas to lead Lady Reddies basketball program | News
ARKADELPHIA, Ark. (HSU) -- Henderson State University Director of Athletics Kale Gober has announced the appointment of Jill Thomas as head women's basketball head coach.
Thomas comes to Henderson after spending the last four seasons as head coach at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina. Thomas was named the Conference Carolinas Coach of the Year this past season, after guiding the Lady Falcons to a 27-5 record and their first-ever NCAA Regional Tournament win.
"First of all, I must thank Lenette Jones and the other committee members - Dr. Patrick Wempe, Doug Nichols, Dwayne Paul, and Ben Smock - for their direction throughout the duration of this search," said Gober. "This committee met more than a dozen different times to ensure that we left no stone unturned in finding the right person to direct our women's basketball program. This absolutely could not have happened without them, and it is because of their efforts that we have made this great hire."
"I want to thank President Glen Jones, Kale and the rest of the committee for giving me the opportunity to be a part of a great institution," said Thomas. "I am very anxious to get started and look forward to the challenges ahead."
During her four years at the Misenheimer, N.C. institution, Thomas compiled a 65-48 record with nine of her players earning all-conference honors, and seven conference players-of-the-week selections.
"The three things that I will stress is work ethic, character, and team accountability," Thomas said. "Our student-athletes must lead by example and be good representatives of Henderson State University. I feel that it also very important for us to be visible throughout the community."
Thomas' teams have not only performed on the court, but in the classroom as well. More than a dozen of her players have been on the Pfeiffer's Presidential Honor Roll, seven players earned all-academic all-conference honors, and one of her players was named Capital One Academic All-American in back-to-back years.
"Henderson State is a program that has been to the Final Four in the recent past, so you're going to have multiple great candidates show interest," Gober added. "Jill's proven ability to build a program, more specifically to do so with knowledge of the Division II game, is what set her apart. She is an extremely hard worker who builds the program from the ground up with extremely high-quality student-athletes."
"One of my first goals will be to improve our GPA," said Thomas. "It is important that our student-athletes can perform in the classroom and not just on the court. We intend to recruit good student-athletes who are also committed to playing basketball and are willing to help Henderson State get back to its winning tradition."
Prior to her stint at Pfeiffer, Thomas was an assistant women's basketball coach at Dakota Wesleyan University where she also worked as a Resident Director and Intramural Coordinator. Thomas also spent a season as an assistant coach at Mitchell High School in Mitchell, S.D.
In addition to valuable coaching experience, Thomas played on the NJCAA Division I and NAIA Division II levels. While at Northwest College she set the school record for most points in one game. While serving as team captain at Black Hills State University, Thomas was selected as a Dakota Athletic Conference Player of the Week and earned a DAC All-Conference award.
Thomas is a 2004 graduate of Northwest College having obtained an associate degree with honors in physical education. She earned a bachelor's degree in Wellness Management with a minor in coaching in 2006 from Black Hills State University. Thomas acquired a master's degree in education from Dakota Wesleyan University in 2012 with an emphasis on curriculum and instruction.
"I am excited to welcome Coach Thomas to our HSU family," said Gober. "I love that she really appreciated the fact that our staff is really like a family. We are bringing her here to do exactly what she has proven she can do. Winning an NCAA Tournament game with a team GPA of 3.46 speaks for itself."