Fred Thomas was named the new head coach of Malone’s football team Jan. 9, and he takes over the position left vacant when Coach Eric Hehman was hired by Olivet Nazarene University. Thomas has previously served as the safeties and special teams coach for the Pioneers.
With coaching experience at Walsh University, Youngstown State University, Alliance High School and Glenn Oak High School, Thomas is no stranger to what it takes to be successful-being surrounded by the right people.
“This is a people business and people are very sincere here,” Thomas said. “I am a player’s coach. I like when players come through the office. I am an excited coach.”
Thomas said he is counting on commitment from players to craft a successful program on the field and off.
“Everything we do, we do it as hard as we can,” said Thomas. “[We] do things day to day [and] never look back. [We] look at today, and if the good Lord gives us tomorrow we’ll focus on that day.”
Thomas’s approach to football will carry the vision of Coach Hehman forward and provide continuity for the players.
“Coach Thomas and I greatly appreciate what Coach Hehman accomplished here in 6 seasons with us,” said Charlie Grimes, athletic director. “He was able to define an excellent vision for the team, and Coach Thomas intends to continue with many of Coach Hehman’s goals: honor God, love our brothers, tell the truth and make it better. It’s a great set of statements that we all hope to live by both on and off the field.”
Thomas’s clear sense of vision will help a team coming off a difficult season face new changes including its first season in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference and playing on a new field.
“Coach Thomas and his staff will tackle a brand new schedule next fall, meeting several schools that we have never played before. Also, in 2017, we will take great honor in returning to Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium as our home field,” Grimes said. “No other NCAA Division II School will be able to call a $70 million facility home.”
Thomas’s connections to the area also look to bring community support for the team.
“Coach Thomas is a native of Canton and has worked in Northeast Ohio his whole life,” Grimes said. “I really appreciate his wisdom and experience, as well as his contact with most all of the high school coaches in our region. Everyone really respects him and wants to support Malone.”
That respect already exists with several players.
Junior offensive linemen Brenson Ennis said, “Not only is Coach Thomas a great coach, he is a great man. Fred Thomas was my eighth grade health teacher, and he impacted me in a positive way and guided me to becoming a better man.”
Thomas brings vast experience to Malone’s season of fresh beginnings, and the program hopes his love for people leads to success on the field.
Seth Byrd is the Sports Writer for The Aviso