(T-G Photo by Gary Johnson)
Thomas, one of the most talented young coaches in the state, came to Shelbyville 12 years ago as an assistant coach in both football and boys basketball then helped former Eaglette coach Rick Insell as an assistant his second year before taking over as head coach of the Eagles.
Shelbyville is currently undefeated at 5-0 and host Tullahoma tonight in a District 8-AAA matchup and a win over the Wildcats not only will be Thomas' 200th but the 43rd consecutive district win for the Eagles, who have won the district championship the past three years.
Shelbyville's success just didn't come by chance.
Thomas believes in hard work, pressure defense, developing role players and discipline.
Stop by and watch the Eagles practice and you will see a combination of all four of those components in action.
"Over the past 10 years since I've been a head coach I've definitely matured as a person and I've also had the great opportunity to have had a lot of great players that don't mind working hard and doing the right thing," Thomas said.
"I feel like I work at one of the best high schools in the state and we just have a great administration and faculty that has always supported me and what we've done with this program. This is also a great community and they really do a good job of supporting our kids."
Thomas also said his grandfather Kermit Forkum, a member of the TSSAA Hall of Fame and former coach at Gainesboro, has had a lot of influence in his coaching career.
Forkum compiled a 362-68 record as a head coach 1959-1970.
He also credits Insell, the current women's head basketball coach at Middle Tennessee and TSSAA Hall of Fame member as well, as having an influence in his coaching career along with longtime friend and Jackson County coach Jim Brown as well as his father Ray Thomas.
It's been amazing to watch how the Eagle basketball program has progressed under the direction of Thomas, chalking up wins over much taller and talented teams time and time again.
Perhaps none as exciting as the 2006 TSSAA state championship game against Hamilton where the Golden Eagles took the sixth--ranked team in the nation to double overtime before a shot at the buzzer from deep in the corner by Mr. Basketball Barry Stewart rolled around the rim then rolled back out.
Girls basketball at Shelbyville has always had great support and still does, but it's nice to see both teams excel at a high level.
"I'll be honest; when I first started nobody really cared about boys basketball. I remember people filing out after the girls game but I've always told the kids that people will stay if they know you're working hard and are committed and thankfully that has changed over the years and our fan support is great as well," Thomas said. "All of that is a testament to the kids for all their hard work over the last few years."
Hard work, pressure defense, role players and discipline are four key ingredients to Thomas' recipe for success.
Hopefully win number 200 will be on the menu tonight.