Jill Thomas Era Begins for Reddies Women’s Basketball

Head Basketball Coach Jill Thomas Starts Her Inaugural Season at the Henderson State

Jill Thomas era begins for Reddies

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – The Henderson State University women’s basketball team will not only begin its season on Nov. 9th in the Duke Wells Center, but the Lady Reddies will also begin a new era. The Reddies will be led by Jill Thomas, who took over the helm on April 11th and will be the team’s seventh head coach since joining the NCAA in 1993.

Thomas, who has seven years of coaching experience, recently was the head coach at Pfeiffer University for four years and one as the interim head coach. In addition to a new head coach, Henderson State acquired Kyle Wilson as the assistant, who worked one year under Thomas during her time at Pfeiffer.

Erasing their minds of last season, Thomas and HSU will begin the year a new slate. The 2013-14 schedule will present tough challenges that the Lady Reddies will look to overcome. With 13 homes games and 14 away games, four of their games will be against opponents who made appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

Jill Thomas

Jill Thomas

“We have a very tough non-conference schedule this season, but it will prepare us for the difficult play within the GAC conference,” said Thomas. “Our goal each game is to not only compete but to get better for conference play. We have preached throughout pre-season about wanting to be the toughest team on the floor each night and I hope to see that starting with Hendrix on Nov 9th.”

Heading into their season opener, Thomas expects the same thing every game from this 2013-14 Reddies’ squad.

“I hope to see from them what I hope to see for every game we play this year, a lot of positive energy from everyone, on the floor or on the bench,” said Thomas. “I want to see a will to win no matter what. As a whole, I want just an overall team effort.”

The Reddies, who finished the 2012-13 season with a 13-14 overall record, returns seven letterwinners and will be led by four upperclassman: Krystal Beachum (Sr., Mexia, Texas), Britney Colbert (Jr., Longview, Texas), Vanessa Pieper (Warren, Ark.) and Aungelique Sledge (West Helena, Ark.).

Beachum, who was the Lady Reddies’ second leading scorer last season, has already totaled 607 points in two seasons. The senior guard recorded a team-high 140 field goals and 40 steals.

“The play of Krystal Beachum will be big for us this upcoming season,” stated Thomas “Beachum has the ability to score and many ways but more importantly battles hard on both ends of the floor.”

Sophomore Dulinica Keener (Texarkana, Ark.), along with Maner, will also seek to top the rebounding statistics again, as they did in the previous season.

The top returner behind the arc is Sledge, who made 16 of the teams’ 111 3-pointers in the 2012-13 season.

“Right besides Krystal will be guard Aungelique Sledge, who has had a very good start to the season,” said Thomas. “Aungelique also has the ability to score in many ways as well and brings a ton of energy and intensity for us.”

The Lady Reddies will not have a deep bench, only having 12 on this year’s roster, but the effort and commitment the team as shown in preseason has Thomas looking forward to the first tip against Hendrix.

Jill Thomas Bio:

Jill Thomas was named head women’s basketball coach on April 11, 2013.

Thomas spent four seasons as head coach at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina from 2009 to 2013.

In 2013, Thomas was named the Conference Carolinas Coach of the Year after guiding the Lady Falcons to a 27-5 record and their first-ever NCAA Regional Tournament win.

During her four years at the Misenheimer, N.C. institution, Thomas compiled a 65-48 record with nine of her players earning all-conference honors, and seven conference players-of-the-week selections.

“The three things that I will stress is work ethic, character, and team accountability,” Thomas said. “Our student-athletes must lead by example and be good representatives of Henderson State University. I feel that it also very important for us to be visible throughout the community.”

Thomas’ teams have not only performed on the court, but in the classroom as well. More than a dozen of her players have been on the Pfeiffer’s Presidential Honor Roll, seven players earned all-academic all-conference honors, and one of her players was named Capital One Academic All-American in back-to-back years.

“Henderson State is a program that has been to the Final Four in the recent past, so you’re going to have multiple great candidates show interest,” said Kale Gober, HSU’s Director of Athletics. “Jill’s proven ability to build a program, more specifically to do so with knowledge of the Division II game, is what set her apart.  She is an extremely hard worker who builds the program from the ground up with extremely high-quality student-athletes.”

“One of my first goals will be to improve our GPA,” said Thomas. “It is important that our student-athletes can perform in the classroom and not just on the court. We intend to recruit good student-athletes who are also committed to playing basketball and are willing to help Henderson State get back to its winning tradition.”

Prior to her stint at Pfeiffer, Thomas was an assistant women’s basketball coach at Dakota Wesleyan University where she also worked as a Resident Director and Intramural Coordinator. Thomas also spent a season as an assistant coach at Mitchell High School in Mitchell, S.D.

In addition to valuable coaching experience, Thomas played on the NJCAA Division I and NAIA Division II levels. While at Northwest College she set the school record for most points in one game. While serving as team captain at Black Hills State University, Thomas was selected as a Dakota Athletic Conference Player of the Week and earned a DAC All-Conference award.

Thomas is a 2004 graduate of Northwest College having obtained an associate degree with honors in physical education. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Wellness Management with a minor in coaching in 2006 from Black Hills State University. Thomas acquired a master’s degree in education from Dakota Wesleyan University in 2012 with an emphasis on curriculum and instruction.

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