A good team comes with good leadership. This is the case for the Dillard University Lady Blue Devils basketball team. The Lady Devils have been known to be one of the top women’s team in the Gulf-Coast Athletic Conference in the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics. The Lady Devils will continue to press onward, but without the aid of their assistant coach Desma Thomas.
Coach Thomas announced her resignation to take an assistant coaching job at the University of Rhode Island. Although it was a difficult decision, Thomas decided that it was time to move on and move forward.
"I decided on the University of Rhode Island because of more opportunity at the
NCAA Division I level. It was a chance for positive growth and continued knowledge about the game and the coaching profession," said Thomas.
The most difficult part of leaving Dillard University, Thomas said, would be missing the past and present members of the team.
"They have made my most enjoyable experiences at Dillard worthwhile and I wish Coach Martin and the rest of the team the best of luck for the 2004-2005 season and the future," said Thomas.
Thomas has hopes of gaining a head coaching position, but is currently concentrating on sharpening her skills and helping to contribute at another program. Her goals are to continue to grow as a person and a coach in her profession, learn all that she can from her colleagues, (family) here at Rhode Island, and help build a successful program.
The coaching job at Rhode Island is not much different from the job at Dillard, according to Coach Thomas.
"It is different in a way that I can just concentrate on getting better as a coach. I don’t have to teach any classes. I am responsible for similar things that I did at Dillard, but on a much larger scale," said Thomas.
Thomas said that it has not been hard to connect with her new players.
"They just want to know that you have their best interest in mind," said Thomas. She said that it is important to demand the best, but still nurture them as a family unit.
The NCAA Division I conference is said to be more competitive than the GCAC conference in the NAIA. Teams in that division are usually tougher than those in NAIA.
Thomas said that it does not matter what division or conference you are in.
"Basketball is basketball. Its how you prepare your team to compete and when you have team that has confidence in themselves and their coaching staff, the level of division isn’t an issue," said Thomas.
There are many important qualities needed in order to be an exceptional assistant coach. As an assistant, Thomas feels that you have to continually learn about the game and different ways to teach the game.
"One of the most important qualities of being an assistant coach for me are getting the student-athletes prepared for life as well as for the competition," said Thomas.
She said that it is also important to make the students feel comfortable enough to be able to approach their coach with concerns and for just everyday conversation.
Thomas said she misses the team and the different personalities she had the chance to get to know on and off the court. She said that her decision to take the job at Rhode Island was an opportunity to expand and grow.