Breakthrough Athletes

Photo by Stephanie Zhang

Last year, Adrian Thomas, CHS tennis player and senior, stepped onto the courts with an ambition. He wanted to play varsity as a part of the top seven players on the team. However, things did not work out, and he left the season hungry for more.

“I thought I was going to play (a varsity match), but it didn’t work out. By junior year, I knew I wasn’t going to be a consistent starting player. It did give me a lot of motivation,” Thomas said.

From then on, Thomas worked to improve his skills on all areas. “I started picking up my fitness regimen, playing more tournaments, switching programs. I feel like it all paid off for me,” Thomas said.

CHS tennis coach Mike Bostic noticed the change in Thomas. “(Thomas) has been loyal to the program. He’s got a great attitude, he works hard, he’s been accepted by his peers and he’s paid his dues,” Bostic said.

Bostic’s realizations towards Thomas’s newfound dedication for tennis led him to select Adrian for the top seven lineup in matches against Lawrence North High School, Homestead and in one match during the Zionsville Invite. According to Bostic, Thomas was able to play varsity because he met Bostic’s criteria. “(A player) has to be genuine. They have to be a good teammate. They have to be loyal to the program and to their teammates and to the program. They have to be hardworking. Adrian fits all of those,” Bostic said.

Thomas agrees with Bostic’s standards for varsity players. “Bostic looks for dedication. He wants a player that’s going to be dedicated to his teammates and dedicated to his own work ethic. He wants players who are good team members and are also very sound in terms of their personal approach to tennis,” Thomas said.

In addition to gaining confidence as a player, Thomas was able to draw a multitude of benefits from his experience as a varsity player. “(Playing varsity) put a lot of things in perspective for me. It made me realize how much hard work goes into this team from the coaches and the players. It made me reflect on my growth as a player,’’ Thomas said.

Although he trained hard and honed his tennis skills, Thomas credits much of his varsity playing time to the fact that he was a senior at the time. “When you’re in that leadership role as a senior, those opportunities open up to be in that position,” he said.

Photo by Stephanie Zhang

Thomas is not the only one who believes that leadership is important to becoming a starting lineup player. Justus Schumann, varsity football player and junior, also stresses the importance of leadership on a team.

“If you’re a starter, you’re going to have to be a leader. You don’t have to be the guy that gets everyone crazy, but just lead by example, and do the right thing,” Schumann said.

Schumann also said that it is important for players in any starting lineup to act appropriately in public. “In the community, (varsity players) should not get in trouble, in addition to being a leader,” he said.

This year, Schumann was on the starting lineup once as an outside linebacker, which only left him hungry for more opportunities his senior year. “You want to get in on the game Friday nights because there’s nothing like the atmosphere. We emphasize a brotherhood kind of surrounding, and it’s really amazing to feel like you’re a part of that, and you contribute to the effort every single week,” Schumann said.

Thomas said that he also feels a sense of pride from playing on a starting lineup. “You feel a great sense of accomplishment of getting to be in the starting lineup, especially on senior night, having your friends and family supporting you. You just feel really special,” Thomas said. In addition to the feeling of being special, Thomas said that playing on varsity gave him more confidence and made him feel worthy of higher heights.

“You feel a great sense of accomplishment of getting to be in the starting lineup, especially on senior night, having your friends and family supporting you. You just feel really special.”Adrian Thomas, CHS tennis player and senior

Thomas continually gives credit to the extra work he put in in order to play varsity. “I made some changes and really took into account more things going into my game and just started taking a different approach, and I think that it paid off in my final year on the team,” Thomas said.

Schumann said that a well-balanced regiment is key to success. “To start at Carmel, you have to do more than just be the strongest guy out there,” he said. “You have to do things correctly, and you need to understand what we’re trying to do on every play. Having the physical talent is (a given). A lot of people think that if they’re super strong, they’ll make it, but it’s hard work.” Schumann said that during the offseason, he wants to work on his muscle strength, as his understanding of the game is already at a high level.

Bostic said that he noticed a change in Thomas as soon as he showed up for tryouts, but reserved judgment until the first few weeks of the season. “I think the first two or three weeks of the season are critical for a player. That’s the time when we’re playing most of the critical challenge matches, and that’s when they have to rise up and earn that spot,” Bostic said.

Bostic’s best advice for a player involves a great deal of work during the offseason. “Put the time in on the offseason. Get yourself in as good shape as you possibly can, and compete as much as you can in the offseason, so when tryouts come, you’re already battle tested,” Bostic said.

Thomas also believes in putting in a great deal of hard work. His advice involves making changes and making good choices. “Believe in yourself. Put in the work. Central Indiana is a highly concentrated area of really talented tennis players, and it’s just about having the confidence in yourself and putting in the work and surrounding yourself with people who can motivate you.”

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Lucus Cheng