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Former Hokie head coach Scot Thomas named new Commodores coach
By Tyler Waldrep 
News Herald Reporter
July 17, 2019  

PANAMA CITY —On Wednesday, Gulf Coast introduced new softball coach, Scot Thomas, and he almost made it through his introduction without being interrupted by his phone.

“I’m a Harley guy so my ringtone is a motorcycle tune,” Thomas said. “I need to turn that down a little bit. Of course, it went off right in the middle.”

It’s an easy oversight to forgive considering the last time Thomas was introduced as a new coach it was prior to the 1996 season when he became the very first head coach of Virginia Tech’s softball program. He remained in that role for 23 years until Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock replaced Thomas following the 2018 season.

In the interim, Thomas coached the Hokies to 16 winning seasons and an overall record of 794-568. Under his leadership, Virginia Tech appeared in the NCAA Regional round eight times. That includes one run in 2008 that went all the way to the Women’s College World Series.

“When a guy who has coached for 23 years at the Division I (level) successfully we would be crazy for that not to at least spark an interest,” Gulf Coast athletic director Mike Kandler said. “And it did. ... He came across as a guy that was very excited to be here and someone that could take us to another level.”

For Kandler, the number 23 is what jumped off the page of Thomas’ resume.

It certainly didn’t hurt that Thomas was named the ACC Coach of the Year in 2007 or that he received the same honor in the Atlantic 10 in 1999. Guiding the Hokies to conference tournament victories in those conferences in addition to the Big East was another nice bonus.

Still, the Gulf Coast AD kept coming back to the number 23. Lasting that long anywhere spoke volumes to Kandler. The fact that it came at the Division-I level was just icing on the cake.

“He absolutely epitomizes what Gulf Coast is looking for,” Kandler said. “Total understanding of the process of recruitment, retention, graduation, and transfer.”

When it came to questions of recruitment, Thomas said the recruiting cycle never really stops. The turnaround on the field is just quicker at this level.

Of course that turnaround could help him out since he’s met plenty of people working at the D-I and D-II levels of the sport over the years.

“I have a lot of connections,” Thomas said. “I’ll be able to feed these players that want to go onto a four-year school and be able to feed ’em back out and that will be part of my recruiting platform.”

That certainly got the attention of several of the Gulf Coast sophomores in attendance for the introduction.

“Knowing that he has that experience and has those connections makes me feel more comfortable to play for him and I’m excited to see what he does with us,” pitcher Brittany Crowson said.

Several players described the recruitment process as one of the most difficult things they will go through during their final year at Gulf Coast.

“You could always have a good play, but if nobody is there to see it then what’s good about it,” Belle Wolfenden said.

Fellow sophomore Taylor Robinson used words like “anxious” and “stressed out” to describe the recruiting process she saw play out with the recent graduating class. She said the hire of Thomas gives her hope that her recruitment to a Division-I program might be a little smoother.

“It was like honestly the background of the coach that I wanted to go here,” Robinson said. “Like that’s the best thing I could have heard was 23 years at Virginia Tech.”


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