The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update


June 14, 2013

Female official closing in on NFL history

Thomas not seeking to 'shatter glass ceiling'


Thomas got into officiating as a way to remain competitive after completing her basketball playing days at the University of Mobile. One of her older brothers was an official, and she asked if she could tag along to one of his meetings in 1996.

What she saw there opened her eyes.

"When I got inside that first meeting, I was really just shocked that guys actually got together and studied rules and took a lot of pride in it," she said. "It was quite a challenge for me, not playing the sport and really after that first meeting realizing I had no clue about football."

Rather than scare her away from the game, the realization sparked Thomas' competitive drive. She threw herself into learning the rules and catching up with the guys.

Within three years, she was working high school games. And, after calling a state championship game in her native Mississippi, she surpassed many of her peers.

An NFL scout was in attendance, and he got Thomas in touch with Gerald Austin — a former NFL official who worked three Super Bowls and is now the coordinator of officials for Conference USA.

In 2007, Thomas became the first woman ever to officiate a major college football game, and two years later she reached another milestone by working the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit.

She's also found success at the professional level, calling games in the now defunct United Football League — including the 2010 championship.

Despite an impressive resume, Thomas is reluctant to single out individual highlights.

"I was one of those athletes, and if I thought for one second that an official thought this was a mediocre game as opposed to a big game, it would have really angered me," she said. "I take in on from a player's standpoint that these guys are giving it their all for the four quarters they're out there, and who am I to say that it's big game or not a big game? So every time I'm given the privilege to be out there on the field, it's a big game."

Text Only
  • SPT - HB0726 - Thornton - Colts Camp day two 200 Healthy Thornton 'having a blast' at Colts Camp Hugh Thornton is making up for lost time. After missing the majority of training camp with an injured ankle as a rookie last summer, the offensive lineman reported a day early to Anderson University this week.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - HB0725 - Colts Camp - 007 CB Darius Butler holds tight to No. 20 The number 20 has grown to mean something to Darius Butler. The former second-round pick was running out of chances when the Indianapolis Colts signed him during the 2012 season. Eleven starts and eight interceptions later, he’s ingrained as the team’s slot cornerback — working under the final season of a two-year, $4 million deal.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • IMG_3703.JPG Colts Quick Hits: Friday, July 25

    Notes, news and fun facts from Colts Training Camp at Anderson University.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT-HB0725-ColtsCamp-080.jpg Comfortable Richardson looking for production

    On Sept. 18, the Indianapolis Colts secured the services of running back Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns. He spent the remainder of the season trying to catch up.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT-HB0725-ColtsCamp-128.jpg Luck plans to use preseason time wisely

    Managing the situations that crop up during a football game is at the top of Andrew Luck's to-do list. But his more immediate concern is maximizing every snap of training camp at Anderson University.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Colts Camp Football_Brem.jpg Colts Camp Blog: Reggie returns and other musings

    News and notes of interest from Colts Training Camp in Anderson.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Chris Hacker image Hacker helping kids go to camp Born with an injury that affects the nerves controlling the muscles in his left arm hasn’t slowed Chris Hacker when he climbs behind a race car.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • MDU1.jpg Colts Camp Update: Pagano praises city, AU

    Blue skies and comfortable temperatures greeted the Indianapolis Colts on the first practice day of training camp Thursday at Anderson University.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0725 - Newsome - JC - 1 Former BSU star Newsome ready to prove his worth

    Jonathan Newsome knows what it feels like to be a spectator at the Indianapolis Colts' training camp. He spent one day in each of the past two summers watching practice alongside his Ball State teammates. When the first public practice of 2014 begins today at 1:50 p.m., Newsome — a fifth-round pick in May's draft — will be on the other side of the fence as a rookie outside linebacker earning his stripes.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - HB0725 - Getting healthy - JC - 3 Colts getting healthy as training camp opens Reggie Wayne's arrival Wednesday in an IndyCar driven by two-time Indianapolis 500 pole-sitter Ed Carpenter drew national attention. But the most important news coming out of reporting day for the Indianapolis Colts concerned the wide receiver's health.

    July 23, 2014 3 Photos

Latest Sports Photos

Click here to browse and buy photos from The Herald Bulletin

Latest Racing News