Many people dream of pursuing a career in sports. For Godwin Alumni Jake Thomas, a life of sports was almost a guarantee.
Hunter Thomas, Jake Thomas’s dad who coached basketball here at Godwin for 28 years, first introduced the game of basketball to Jake Thomas before he could remember.
Every practice or game that Hunter Thomas coached, Jake Thomas and his brother would always try to attend. Jake Thomas would attend every event his dad coached, until he was in high school at Godwin playing for his dad, Hunter Thomas.
Sometimes playing under your father is not easy, but Jake Thomas made it work. Jake Thomas played two years of varsity basketball under his father in 2012 and 2013.
“While there were some heated moments, it was an incredible experience,” said Jake Thomas.
Hunter Thomas enjoyed coaching both of his sons and made sure to separate their personal life and their basketball life.
“We always had a deal that I was coach on the floor, and dad off the floor. I was not able to talk basketball with them off the floor unless they brought it up,” said Hunter Thomas.
After Jake Thomas graduated from Godwin in 2013, he took his first coaching position coaching JV basketball for Armstrong High School. After coaching at Armstrong High School for one year, he took an assistant coach position for his alma mater, Godwin High School.
He knew he wouldn’t continue playing after high school, but realized coaching would present the opportunity to continue being active with the sport he loves.
Outside of coaching, Jake Thomas is a Lead Teacher at Faison School and Center for Autism in Richmond for students between the ages of eight and 12.
At first, Hunter Thomas thought his other son would be a coach, but when he saw the way Jake Thomas dealt with students with autism, he knew coaching would be in Jake Thomas’s future.
“Jake has known since high school exactly what he wanted to do with his life. He is a very giving individual and his mom and I are very proud of the man he has become,” said Hunter Thomas.
Once Jake Thomas started to coach, he noticed the significant impact it made on his own life, and has fallen in love with coaching at Godwin.
“I love the comradery that comes with coaching and teaching our guys here at Godwin. The connections you make both inside and outside of basketball is what it is all about,” said Jake Thomas.
Jake Thomas wanted to come back and coach at Godwin because he loved playing for Godwin.
“I enjoyed every second of playing basketball here and I loved the culture surrounding the program. Especially rivalry games versus Deep Run and Freeman, it doesn’t get any better than that,” said Jake Thomas.
While Jake Thomas is an assistant coach at Godwin, he hopes to one day be a head coach, just like his dad.
“I would love to someday find a head coaching position, but I am excited to get the opportunity to learn and grow from Coach Oliver and the rest of the coaching staff here at Godwin,” said Jake Thomas.
Having a father who coached for a majority of his youth not only helped his basketball knowledge, but helped him improve as a person. Jake Thomas looks up to his father’s coaching philosophies.
“I have always looked up to my dad for the way he ran the program. He constantly would emphasize character and instil toughness and work ethic in his players which I admired him for,” said Jake Thomas.
While Hunter Thomas is not the Head Coach for Godwin anymore, he is still a big part of the program. He is constantly helping at practices and gets to see his son coach in live action.
“I think he has done a good job coaching. He is good at working with the big men and has a great understanding of defensive philosophies,” said Hunter Thomas.
Hunter Thomas is very excited to see his son following in his footsteps and now coach at Godwin. He is not only excited to see his son coach, but he is excited to be able to talk to his son about the game, from a coaches perspective.
“For him to now want to talk to me about things that I dealt with in the past is really neat,” said Hunter Thomas.
While he looks up to his father and is now coaching at the same school where his father is coaching , he doesn’t want to follow his fathers exact footsteps.
“Honestly, those shoes are too big to fill. My hope is to create my own narrative here at Godwin, but just like my father my hope is to make an impact on our players and help them grow as individuals,” said Jake Thomas.