Thank you Wildcat Nation for an incredible five years.
Last week, Monday was my last time putting on that Wildcat jersey and competing in McKale. There were so many emotions but I was just glad to be surrounded by all my family and friends. The kind messages I have received these past days have been so heartwarming. I never could have imagined impacting so many people’s lives and inspiring young girls to play basketball. I hope that I can continue to do the same with whatever my next step in life is. Even though I am done playing I still hope to come back to Tucson as much as I can and support this community and school.
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Over these past few days of taking off and having a little break from basketball before I get back to training, I have been reminiscing on all my memories here as a Wildcat on and off the court. My obvious on-court memory would have to be after we beat UConn in the Final Four to get to the national championship game. Going into that game, no one was expecting us to win. We went in knowing there was no pressure because UConn was supposed to win that game as a higher seed. Also just growing up as a young basketball player, you always hear about UConn and the legendary program and coach that they have. To be able to play against them and knowing that Geno now knows your name was a great feeling. We went in that game and just played our best basketball. I never felt more connected and on point on any other team I played on in that moment.
After the game, we were all so happy. It was also the only game besides our first round game where we didn’t poor water on the coaches. We all made an agreement that if we won we wouldn’t throw water because we were all tired of leaving the arena drenched in water, and a lot of people had straightened their hair and didn’t want it wet.
Wish this were a “One more year post” but unfortunately I have no more eligibility left. Just here to say thank you #Beardown💙❤️ pic.twitter.com/ZGQCAQTexz
— Sam Thomas (@s_thomas14) March 24, 2022
My favorite off-the-court memory would have to be my junior year, during Christmas break we all made a video where we mocked our coaches and pretended to be them. We dressed like them, acted like them, and made all the jokes. It was a great team-bonding moment because it was a surprise to the coaches and they had no idea we were doing it. We got together on our own time to get in the gym and film. I got to play the part of our past assistant coach Jackie Nared. At the time, Dominique was still on the team and she played Salvo. Her accent was perfect and made us all laugh. It’s the little moments and team-bonding activities that I will miss the most. I will still be playing basketball (hopefully) so it’s not my career ending that I am sad about. It’s my team and these fans and the excitement of a gameday, leading up to tip off. Going into the locker room before a practice just talking with everyone and catching up. It’s those little things that I will miss the most and will remember forever.
Sam Thomas is a senior leader with Adia Barnes’ program in her fifth season in 2021-22 as granted by the NCAA because of last season impacted by COVID-19 protocol. She has agreed to write a weekly column at AllSportsTucson.com. Her honors at Arizona include:
2021 Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year
2019, 2021 and 2022 CoSIDA First Team Academic All-American
Elite 90 Award Winner
2020 and 2022 All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention
2020, 2021 and 2022 Pac-12 All-Defense
2020 & 2021 Pac-12 Winter Academic Honor Roll
2019 CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team
2019 Pac-12 All-Academic First Team
2018 Pac-12 All-Freshman
2018 Arizona Athletics Female Freshman of the Year