Frank Thomas arrives at WSU after NCAA gives him another shot

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Courtesy of Marcus Wright/ WSU Athletics

Just like many others throughout this summer, Wichita State men’s golfer Frank Thomas has had to adjust on the fly. 

This past season, Thomas was at Southern Illinois looking to graduate before the golf season and the world shut down this summer. Thomas remembers being on Beale Street for a tournament that was being hosted by LSU before they were ultimately forced to fly back with their season cut short.

“It was eye-opening at first because we expected it but once we got there we thought we’re at least going to be able to play at this event and then deal with the COVID stuff after we get back. It hit us like a truck essentially so we had to come home immediately.”

As a result of the golf season getting canceled this past spring, the NCAA decided to allow all spring sport seniors to gain another year of eligibility. For Thomas, graduate school became an option while also transferring and playing a fifth year elsewhere. 

Wichita State became an interesting option for Thomas due to his previous relationship with Head Coach Judd Easterling when Easterling was recruiting him during his time as an assistant coach at the University of Missouri. 

“That’s what made WSU very attractive to me coming into it because I knew him and I knew one other kid on the team, Lake Leroux, who’s from Missouri,” Thomas said. “I at least knew someone and something without coming into it blind.”

For Easterling, being able to land a player of Thomas’s caliber was an opportunity the program couldn’t pass up.

“It’s pretty rare that you get a kid that’s a grad transfer who’s mature and he’s been through pretty much everything,” Easterling said in a phone interview with The Sunflower. “He’s an asset to the younger guys, he’s traveled and played in college golf tournaments. He’s been a real asset to Matt and I plus to his teammates.”

Despite it only being Thomas’s first year at WSU, he feels that he can still have an impact leadership-wise given his experience over the past four years.

“Obviously, this is my first year here so I’m not going to be very helpful around the courses here but bringing that leadership mentality,” Thomas said. “I think guys can look up to me knowing that I’ve been there before and guys can see it in me that I’m motivating and that we need to try our best at all times.”

Easterling also feels that Thomas can be a person that the players can go and take advice from because of his experience. 

“To the younger guys, they can go to him, lean on him for some advice for when they may not feel comfortable coming to the coaching staff,” Easterling said. “He’s an older kid that has been through a lot, he’s just a real good resource for the younger guys. If there’s everyday situations, he’s most likely been through it and can kind of help them and lead the younger guys.”

As he adjusts to a new school, Thomas has enjoyed how the coaching staff has run practices to this point with more freedom than he had at SIU. 

“I think back at SIU, we had things he wanted us to do at practice so we didn’t get our time to do what we wanted to do. I didn’t really like that because the players know their games as much as anybody. I enjoy how Matt and Judd run practices. I enjoy how they do things from a day-to-day standpoint.”

As for the future, Thomas is hoping to complete an MBA in the next two years after double-majoring in finance at marketing at SIU. So far, it has been a challenge for Thomas but he feels it will pay off in the end. 

“It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be right now but it’s obviously something I’m going to have to do and I’m going to have to push myself to do,” Thomas said. “It’s not something I would’ve done if I wouldn’t have gotten the extra year of eligibility but I’m glad that I did. It’s going to pay off in the end.”