Former TJC Player and Coach Named New Kilgore Coach - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Former TJC Player and Coach Named New Kilgore Coach

KILGORE--There will be a new courtside commander in Kilgore this fall as the Lady Rangers tip off the 2006-07 basketball season and he may look familiar. If he does, he should. Walking to the podium with a smile as big as his list of accomplishments, Roy Thomas was introduced as the fourth head women’s coach in school history by Athletic Director David Castles this morning at a press conference held at center court of Masters Gymnasium on the KC campus. Thomas, who experienced numerous achievements as both a player and men’s coach in Region XIV at neighboring Tyler Junior College, comes to Kilgore after stepping down from the college coaching ranks at North Carolina A&T and splitting the past three seasons coaching boys and girls basketball at Kirbyville High School. Revealing both his sense of humor and KC Lady Ranger basketball knowledge, Thomas joked with the crowd about the role he was taking over and how he would embrace the legacy created by KC's first head coach and three-time national champion, Evelyn Blalock.

"I'm going to have to go buy a pair of black leather pants so I can storm up and down the sideline as well as Evelyn did while she was here," Thomas said. "She got into the game as good as anyone I've ever seen and it showed through her winning."

Thomas takes over for Contina James, who resigned last month after her third season at the helm to spend more time with her family. Over her three seasons James compiled a 38-48 record, making the conference tourney one time.

As a 2002 inductee into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, the Kirbyville native is no stranger to success. Earning All-American honors during his playing days at Tyler from 1968-70, Thomas transferred to Baylor where he played two seasons for the Bears and earned his bachelor’s degree. After his playing days in Waco, Thomas barely missed the 10-man roster cut for the ABA’s Dallas Chaparrals, now the San Antonio Spurs. He then traveled to Europe where he played with the Gillette All-Stars in a professional league. Thomas returned home from Europe and landed a job at his alma mater, serving as Baylor assistant coach and working toward his master’s degree, which he obtained in 1978. From Baylor, he was hired as head coach at Texas A&I University, now Texas A&M University-Kingsville, from 1980-83. Following his three years in South Texas, Thomas headed north to Tyler following the 1983 season where he took over as head men's basketball coach from 1983-94. During his time in Tyler he compiled a 218-97 record, led the Apaches to 11 conference tournaments, claimed five conference championships and made one NJCAA tournament. He was named Region XIV Coach of the Year three times and groomed former NBA star Robert Pack. Thomas also served as head coach of the 1992 Texas All-Stars in their contest against the U.S. All-Stars. In 1994, Thomas accepted the head coaching position at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C. There, Thomas led the Aggies to the NCAA tournament in his first year on the job, being eliminated by Tim Duncan and Wake Forest. His hardcourt successes continued in North Carolina, twice earning Middle-Eastern Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors, claiming one conference title, one conference tournament title and once making the NCAA tournament. Thomas stepped down from North Carolina A&T in 1999 to return home to Kirbyville and care for his elderly parents. He accepted a position as director of the Alternative Education Program within Kirbyville ISD shortly after his arrival. Following the resignation of the boy’s head coach in 2002, Thomas was asked to step in, which he did for two years until moving over to the girl’s side. In 2005-06 his first year as head coach of the Kirbyville Lady Wildcats, Thomas guided the team to a 23-7 record – 7-3 in district play – its first playoff appearance since the 1980s and first playoff victory since the 1970s. In addition to his Texas Sports Hall of Fame induction, Thomas was honored in 2003 by the school where he experienced the most success – Tyler. The college inducted him into their coveted TJC Sports Circle of Honor in the same class with the man he helped shape during his days as an Apache, Robert Pack.

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