By email@example.com (Ben Boynton)
“Roll Tide” isn’t just a cheer for University of Alabama athletics; it’s a common phrase people will hear all over campus. For students, athletes, professors and fans, it’s a central part of their life. It’s such a big phrase ESPN made a commercial that showed it being used at a wedding and a funeral.
Senior outside hitter Brittany Thomas used to hate it.
“Growing up, I thought ‘Roll Tide, Alabama’ was so stupid and so annoying,” Thomas said.
These days, Thomas has warmed up to the phrase.
“I finally came on a visit and I thought ‘Holy moly, this is the real deal Dad. You were right,’” Thomas said. “I just fell in love with the campus, and coach [Ed] Allen and the program and coach Allen’s vision for the program, and now here I am.”
Though she grew up disliking the saying, Alabama was always in the background of Thomas’s life. Her father spent some of his childhood in Dothan, Alabama, and is a huge fan of the Crimson Tide. Thomas is very thankful for her father’s persistence, as she has loved her time in Tuscaloosa.
“It’s been awesome. The friendships and relationships I’ve made with my teammates and coaches and classmates and professors are above anything else,” Thomas said. “I’m just so blessed and thankful that I was given this opportunity to be here.”
Thomas is one of the more integral members of UA’s volleyball team. She plays the L2 position, and though redshirt senior middle blocker Krystal Rivers may earn more attention, no one on Allen’s team has more responsibility than Thomas.
“She’s being asked to pass, dig, block, hit, serve; there isn’t anybody that’s got more of a role,” Allen said. “She tries to handle that in a way that gives us the best opportunity to compete. She’s a six rotation player.”
Thomas is coming off back-to-back double-doubles in matches against Mississippi State and Missouri. She is second on the team this season in digs per set. Her ability to earn double-digit kills and digs in a match is an example of the kind of role she has on the team.
She began her career in a big way, earning AVCA Honorable Mention All-American honors as a freshman, playing every single point for the Crimson Tide in the 2013 season. She finished eighth in the SEC in kills per set with 3.31.
While her on-court numbers haven’t been as high since that 2013 campaign, Allen said Thomas has been an integral part of the program.
“She’s a positive kid who brings a lot of personality to a team,” Allen said. “She was a part of the early building here, played a critical role in being the kind of person we could depend on making good decisions and putting herself in position to be successful, and prioritize academics and athletics over everything else.”
Junior libero Natalie Murison said Thomas is a great teammate to be around and a great friend to have.
“On the court she brings so much energy and she’s such a great team player,” Murison said. “She really leads our team well in the locker room. She’s so funny and she’s great to be around. You always know you’re going to have fun with her.”
Like many of her fellow seniors, Thomas isn’t sure what the future holds beyond graduation. She is unsure what life will be like without volleyball, a sport she has played since she was 10 years old. She’s earning a master’s degree in marketing with a specialization in digital and social media. She hopes to do something based in that.
Whatever Thomas does in the next chapter of her life, it will be with a smile and a saying she never thought she’d be happy to say — Roll tide.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports