The 50-year-old Buckhead resident has shown he has some skills as a player as well.
Thomas displayed his playing prowess as he helped lead teams in three different age groups to gold medals at the Lacrosse World Games in Denver July 16 through 19.
Entering the tournament with his regular club team, the Atlanta-based Southern Empire in the 40-and-over age group, Thomas ended up being recruited to play for two other squads in the competition – Team Harley Davidson of Baltimore (50+) and Elder Statesmen (Colo.) (45+).
As a result, Thomas ended up with three gold medals, with Southern Empire defeating Moondoggie of San Diego 8-3 in the 40+ championship game, Harley Davidson beating Mr. Boh of Baltimore 12-3 in the 50+ finals and Elder Statesmen winning a 13-10 decision over Canadian team Bald Beavers in the 45+ title contest.
Thomas, who played attack for all three teams, contributed a combined 18 goals and 12 assists in the 15 games he appeared in during the tournament.
For Thomas, winning three championships on the same day was a memorable experience, to say the least.
“It was one of the best lacrosse days in my life,” Thomas said. “I’ve had a lot of milestones in lacrosse and I’ve competed in other World Games, but I’ve never won gold medals in different divisions. It’s so great. It was a terrific effort and undertaking. I feel really grateful to be asked by so many teams to participate and to be actually able to pull it off is something.”
Enduring the physical demands of playing 15 games for three different teams in three days in the high altitude of Denver was a big challenge for Thomas.
“On semifinals day, I had to play three games in a row and on finals day, I had to play three games in a row,” Thomas said. “It was 90 degrees out and Denver is about 5,600 feet up above sea level, so it was a challenge. On the last day, I was running on nothing but adrenaline, because I was really tired. It was a lot of lacrosse for anybody, especially an old guy. It was a lot of fun, but it was a challenge.”
Thomas has been around the sport of lacrosse most of life, taking up the game in his native Baltimore at age 13 and playing at the college level at Massachusetts.
After graduation, he continued to play on the club level, first in Los Angeles and then in Atlanta, where he has lived for the past 15 years.
Thomas has also been active in youth lacrosse, founding Northside Surge Youth Lacrosse in 2008, which he serves as the league’s director and main coach.
Two years later he created Coast 2 Coast Lacrosse, a national organization to help young players develop their skills.
“I guess the best way to say it is that the spirit of lacrosse bit me when I was very young and, obviously, it still burns inside,” Thomas said. “I love the game. I love teaching the game.
“I love watching young kids catch fire and enjoy it in the same spirit. It’s such a great game.”