Krystal Thomas Focuses on Giving Back

By Ben York,
Posted: April 29, 2013

“Is it hard to find pants and shoes that fit you?”

That was the first question that a student at Countryside Elementary School n Surprise, AZ asked Krystal Thomas. The 6-5 Phoenix Mercury center recently spoke to several classes at the school about the importance of getting a degree, working hard and living a healthy lifestyle.

“Well,” Thomas responded while laughing. “I make it work. It can be a little tough. I rock quite a few pairs of sandals; they are easier to find.”

Thomas has consciously woven making a positive impact in her community as an integral part of her responsibility as a professional athlete in the WNBA. Many times, she’ll go above and beyond team appearances or events and speak to children and organizations on her own free time.

Indeed, her message is always one of inspiration.

“I had two goals in life when I was young,” Thomas said to the class. “I wanted to go to Duke and play professional basketball. It wasn’t always easy, but I’ve been able to reach both goals. No matter what you want to do in life, settings goals is so important. I'd wake up early in college and study, then go to practice, study some more, practice again and prepare for class the next day. I'd find time to eat somewhere in there.”

At Duke, Thomas majored in Psychology and double minored in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology. When she relayed that information to each class, there was a collective “wow” that permeated the entire room. The work ethic it takes to do what Thomas did is exceptional.

“That’s a lot of ‘ology’s,’” one student said.

“It certainly is,” Thomas said. “But I was focused on bettering myself and didn’t want to let that opportunity slip by. It’s important to have something you can fall back on. Once my basketball career is over, I’m thinking of doing something in the medical field, maybe a Physician’s Assistant.”

Though nervous at first, the kids quickly overcame their shyness due to Thomas’ kind nature and sincerity. Children usually can sense when adults are genuine, and Thomas definitely fits that bill. Thus, when Thomas asked the room if they had any questions, nearly every hand was raised.

“Can you eat a lot of junk food if you’re a professional athlete?” said one young man.

“Definitely not,” Thomas said. “I learned early on that if I want to prolong my career, I’m going to need to eat healthy. In fact, I put strawberries, bananas and all kinds of vegetables in my smoothie this morning.”

“Yuck!” the class proclaimed in unison.

Before each talk ended, Thomas left the kids with a motivating message.

“It takes a lot of hard work to reach your goals,” she said with confidence. “But there is something gratifying in the process. Whatever you want to be, the key is to keep working hard and never giving up. I’m proof that it can be done.

“There’s no reason each of you can’t do the same.”