Senior Features: Jasmine Thomas Grows Through Adversity
The first of a three-part series on the 2012-13 Spartan women's basketball senior class.
Feb. 26, 2013
by Macaulie Fritz, MSU Athletic Communications Student Assistant
For senior guard Jasmine Thomas, coming to Michigan State was a no-brainer. The choice was simple, for the Flint, Mich., native.
"It was that happy medium of distance from home," said Thomas. "Not too close, not too far away. It was just the combination of academics and I knew their program was a success."
The program has continued to be a success while she has become a Spartan, but over the years a lot of changes have taken place.
"To be honest, when Brittney [Thomas] left I was like `Yes, my time!', Thomas said. "I did hear about this freshman, Kiana Johnson who was coming in, but I didn't really think too much about it. She's a great player; I definitely think she showed up come game time so I didn't see why there was a reason she shouldn't have been starting. Now I feel like we work well together, both of us out there on the floor. Her still at the one, me running multiple spots. She's just a player and a competitor, so both of us do what we have to do to win."
Thomas has always been her own biggest critic on the court and a really reserved person off the court. However, over the years she has noticed major changes in herself.
"The biggest thing that's changed about me on the court is my mental approach and my mental toughness," said Thomas. "As a person, it would just be opening up."
She gives some of the credit to the changes in herself to her teammates naming her one of three team captains this season.
"It definitely hit home when I found out my teammates selected me to be in that position," Thomas said. "It really made me feel good about where I was and the type of person they thought of me as. Being a captain is tough, but with Courtney Schiffauer and Klarissa Bell it makes it a lot easier just because you have people there that kind of share the same role as you. I've always been a leader by example, not by saying much. This position has made me talk more and I'm still learning. I think it's the biggest thing that's changed about me."
Over the course of four years, Thomas and head coach Suzy Merchant have grown to have a mutual respect for each other.
"Our relationship has definitely not been the smoothest, but this year in particular has been really significant to my growth on the court," said Thomas. "It took a little longer in our situation. I'm just glad it is where it is now."
After the win this season against Northwestern, Coach Merchant commended Thomas' style of play.
"I said in the locker room after the game that I would love to go back in time and play with Jasmine Thomas," said Merchant. "I would be the first player to chest bump and high five her watching some of the stuff she does out there. I would show definite respect and admiration and try to play to the level she was playing. Without Jasmine Thomas, I don't know where this team would be."
Thomas hopes to leave her teammates with a bit of knowledge and the advice for them to live by.
"College is mental; it definitely is," said Thomas. "I think what sets the good players apart is their mental approach to the game. As long as that's there and you stay focused you shouldn't have anything to worry about."
Thomas' goal is to continue with a professional career in basketball, but if that doesn't happen for her, she would like to take a year or so off to gain some experience by getting an internship in the psychology field. She then plans to come back for graduate school.
Being a Spartan will always hold a place of pride with Thomas. As a Flint, Mich., native, she has the gratification of being a female "Flintstone."
"Even though it's not a legacy on the women's side, I still feel that emotion," Thomas said. "When I go back home, not only am I a Division I basketball player, but I go to Michigan State and I am a Spartan."
When all is said and done, Thomas will be sad to leave the family atmosphere of Michigan State.
"It's not just the team you play with, it's other MSU teams that come out and support you and you go out and support them," said Thomas. "It's just the unit and the support you have for each other is outstanding. I don't think you could find fans anywhere else that can compare."