Sometimes an athlete comes along who defies the norm.
He gives people a reason to cheer. Brings them to their feet. Makes them smile and allows them to hope.
That was Logan Thomas in a nutshell. Throughout his career, the Brookville standout was the epitome of class. He was accustomed to winning and he still deferred credit to his teammates. He also knew the pain of loss and he handled it all with grace.
Thomas’ Brookville basketball jersey was retired Tuesday, at halftime of the Bees final home game of the 2015-2016 season.
His basketball career long ago took a backseat to football, except to fellow players and diehard fans. That’s usually the way it works when you’re exceptional in another sport. After all, Thomas didn’t get to Virginia Tech or into professional sports because of his basketball skills.
But Brookville took steps on Tuesday to make sure his basketball career is enshrined in history. Number 24 will be honored in the Bees gym. It will hang there as a reminder that Thomas scored more points than anyone in Brookville history.
His No. 3 football jersey hasn’t yet been garnered that distinction. But that’s because he is usually pretty busy in the fall.
By the time he arrived in high school, Thomas was sure of his abilities. As the Bees star, he was almost always sought out by local media outlets after a game or for a mid-week story.
I’ve written before about players who are respectful to reporters. That’s always an impressive quality, because being in the limelight doesn’t guarantee you positive press. In fact, it means you’re constantly under the microscope. But Thomas was always willing to speak his mind.
Cover high school sports for any amount of time and you’ll find that getting young athletes to talk can sometimes be like pulling teeth. But perhaps Thomas was grooming himself for the intense scrutiny he’d receive at the next level.
That’s how my colleague, Nate Warters, described it. Warters, a former reporter for The News & Advance, covered Thomas perhaps more than any other sports writer. Warters not only helped with high school football coverage, but also followed Thomas into college, since he was the paper’s Virginia Tech beat writer at the time.
“He reminded me of a college player in high school,” Waters said. That was because of Thomas’ athletic ability and the way he handled himself around others. He gave the credit to his teammates when Brookville won and placed the blame on himself when the team lost.
Talk to reporters, coaches, fans and other players about Thomas and something always crops up in conversation: He had character and a high degree of integrity.
One of the things that impressed Warters the most occurred at Virginia Tech. In his first season, Thomas didn’t know where he would fit in. He wasn’t sold on the fact that Tech coaches wanted to turn him into a quarterback. He probably would’ve rather served as a tight end.
But he fit the mold of a quarterback perfectly.
“That was one of the things about him,” Warters added. “When there was a roadblock, he never hesitated to go over it head-on.”
That’s what was so impressive about Thomas. At Brookville on Tuesday, he was the same way. He deferred to his former basketball teammates. He talked about his parents and the Brookville community.
He lamented that, from his point of view, he didn’t always take advantage of his time in high school. Sometimes, he said, he’d like to go back and do things over again.
But from where we stand, albeit from a distance, his career looks pretty darned impressive.
It looked good then and it will look good enshrined now, amid maroon and gold.