Mel Thomas, who joined the Eagles in summer of 2010, enters her third season as a member of the FGCU women's basketball staff. As the Director of Basketball Operations, Thomas performs a plethora of duties, including film exchange and assisting the coaching staff with team travel.
Thomas helped the Eagles to a solid 2012-13 season. FGCU became the first school to go undefeated in A-Sun play in back-to-back seasons, finishing the season with the most victories (27) of the 13 Division I institutions in the state of Florida and capturing the program’s third consecutive A-Sun Regular Season crown. Led by 2013 A-Sun Player and Scholar-Athlete of the Year Sarah Hansen and 2013 A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year Brittany Kennedy, FGCU also secured the ninth-straight 21+ win in program history and participated in their sixth consecutive Division I postseason tournament (WNIT). Leading the nation and the Atlantic Sun in three-point field goals per game (9.4), for the second year in a row, the Green and Blue ranked in the top 40 in the country in 13 different statistical categories in the final NCAA rankings.
Less than 14 months after tying the all-time NCAA record and setting the 2011-12 NCAA single-game high with 21 three-pointers on 51 long range attempts in their 106-27 over NAIA foe Webber International on Nov. 28, 2011 at Alico Arena, the Eagles knocked down 22 triples in a 97-60 win at ETSU on Jan. 12, 2013. Prior to breaking the record, the Eagles, who own the NCAA Division I single season record for three-pointers (342; 2011-12), were tied for first place all-time with New Mexico State, who drained 21 triples against Louisiana-Lafayette on Feb. 23, 2002. The NCAA Division I record 22 three-point makes are also a program and Atlantic Sun Conference best, as FGCU made 10 treys in the first half and 12 in the second. The Green and Blue hit 12-of-23 (52.2 percent) triples in the final frame in which they outscored the Lady Bucs 46-35.
In 2011-12, Thomas helped the Green and Blue wrap up the most historic season in its Division I history, winning the program’s first Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Championship, advancing to the NCAA Tournament and earning a No. 12 seed in the Raleigh Region. FGCU finished with a 29-3 overall record that included a league-first 18-0 mark in the A-Sun. The Green and Blue, with their seven trifectas vs. St. Bonaventure in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, set the NCAA record for three-pointers in a season (342), while also setting the Division I record for three-point field goals made per game (10.7).
The Eagles verified the conference’s third-ever unbeaten regular season by cruising through the Atlantic Sun Tournament, taking the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament with a convincing 67-39 win over second-seeded and 20-game winner Stetson. The Green and Blue’s success at the conference tournament cemented FGCU’s name in the A-Sun record books. Making their first A-Sun postseason appearance in their first year of postseason eligibility, the Eagles became the third team in A-Sun history to win the Atlantic Sun Championship in its first appearance, while also becoming the second team to post an A-Sun undefeated regular season and win the championship title.
In Thomas' first season on the bench, the Eagles posted a 28-4 overall record (17-3 A-Sun). FGCU, who earned an automatic bid to the WNIT, won the Atlantic Sun regular season crown and led the nation in three point field goals made per game, as Shannon Murphy picked up first team all-conference honors and Sarah Hansen earned second team all-conference and was named to the A-Sun All-Freshmen squad.
Thomas, who played collegiately at the University of Connecticut, came to the FGCU program after playing professional basketball for the Artego Bydgoszcz in the Polish Basketball League in 2009-10. She played for the Bausch & Lomb Waterford Wildcats in Ireland during the 2008-2009 season.
The Cincinnati, Ohio native, who led Mount Notre Dame High School to a perfect 28-0 record and the school’s first Division I Ohio State Basketball Championship (2004), joined the UConn Huskies in 2004, where she succeeded at the highest levels both academically and athletically. Thomas was a three-time BIG EAST Academic All-Star, and is a graduate of UConn's School of Business.
Thomas was named co-captain of her team in both her junior and senior seasons. In her senior year, she played a key role in UConn winning the BIG EAST regular season and tournament championships, and in their run to the NCAA Final Four. She finished her career with 1,098 points and is currently ranked fifth in UConn history in three-pointers made with 224. In Thomas’ four years as a Huskie, the team recorded an amazing 125-19 (.868) overall record and a 58-6 (.906) record in BIG EAST Conference competition, while picking up a pair of regular season conference championships (2007 and 2008) and three conference tournament titles (2005, 2006, 2008).
After her playing days at Connecticut were over, Thomas authored a book that she used to share her love and appreciation for UConn with everyone. She kept a diary throughout her senior year which became her book, ‘Heart of a Husky’. ‘Heart of a Husky’ is a depiction of her experiences as she worked towards winning a National Championship.
Thomas was also a member of the United States Pan American Games team in the summer of 2007 when the U.S. won the gold medal for the first time since 1987.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT THOMAS:
“Mel Thomas will always be remembered as one of the toughest kids ever to play at UConn.”
“She is a tremendous inspiration to anyone who aspires to compete at the highest levels, in any endeavor.”
“Mel Thomas is a winner – and a great role model for kids and adults of all ages.”
- Geno Auriemma, UConn Women’s Basketball Head Coach (from the Foreword of ‘Heart of a Huskie’)