Coaches, former players, and friends remember Jimmy Thomas

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FILE- Former Bushland head football coach Jimmy Thomas, left, poses with his son and former Bushland quarterback Jared during the 2019 football season. [Kale Steed/ Press Pass Sports]
The high school football coaching world lost one of its own on Monday morning. Littlefield head coach and athletic director, Jimmy Thomas, passed away at the age of 52 after suffering from a brief illness. Thomas is survived by his wife, Kaylie, his two daughters, Kara and Katelynn, and his son, Jared.

Thomas, a Sanford-Fritch native, was a veteran of the United State Navy, and a head football coach for 18 years with stops at George West, Danbury, Bushland and most recently Littlefield. Thomas compiled an amazing record of 119-75 during that span. During his six seasons at Bushland, he led the Falcons to a 47-26 mark that included six straight playoff appearances with a Class 4A Division II state quarterfinal showing in 2017.

Coaches, close friends, and former players took time to share their sentiments of Thomas with Press Pass Sports.

Bushland head coach Josh Reynolds, left, shakes hands with Littlefield head coach Jimmy Thomas when Thomas returned to Bushland in 2021. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]
Josh Reynolds, Bushland head football coach
“Jimmy Thomas was more than a mentor to me. He was a great friend. I can’t put into words what he meant to me and my family. I will always treasure the good times and the laughs we shared together. Jimmy was a great leader and a man of strong faith. The number of lives he impacted not only in Bushland but across the state is a testament to his legacy. I’m honored to call him my friend.”

 

Ty Mayfield, Bushland defensive coordinator, head girls’ basketball coach
“He took a chance on me as a defensive coordinator. I think he changed Bushland football with the quarterback power play that made us hard-nosed and changed the defense and made us more aggressive. When I think of Jimmy, I just think of his loyalty. We were loyal to each other. He was just a guy to have a good time with and he was so great with kids. He was loyal to us, the school and always showed professionalism.”

Joel Love, Bushland assistant football coach, head baseball coach
“Old school coach with a sense of humor. He was a good friend and great family man.”

Derek Mauldin, Bushland assistant football coach, head girls track coach
“I will always remember Coach Jimmy Thomas as a man that stood for God and a mentor of how to be a dad and a coach. Especially to your own son.”

Kristi Culpepper, Bushland High School principal
“Coach Thomas was a servant leader. He cared for all those around him, coaches, players, students, secretaries, lunch ladies. He smiled and genuinely cared for people. He wasn’t beyond a good prank and loved to laugh with those he was closest to. He was a student of the game, and he loved football as much as he loved his family, players and friends.”

Jason Culpepper, Bushland volleyball coach 
“Jimmy loved a practical joke. He and Kristi, my wife, were always laughing and playing jokes on each other. It always made the day better. We are going to miss him.”

Mike Read, Littlefield superintendent 
“Coach Thomas was a great leader for LISD sports programs, and he served as an inspiring role model to the student-athletes of Littlefield ISD. Although he constantly strove to create winning athletic programs at LISD, he worked equally hard to use those programs to build students of good character. His presence will be hugely missed by the district’s students, his fellow teachers and coaches, and the entire Littlefield school community.”

Kendall Cogburn, West Plains head boys’ basketball coach, former Bushland boys’ basketball coach
“Thank you for everything you have done for me and my family. You saw the good in a young 26-year-old basketball coach and took a chance on him. You also gave a young coach so much confidence in himself by believing in him and always having his back. You became a great friend and mentor and I’ll always appreciate you for it. You were always one of the first ones to reach out after a big win and simply say, “I’m proud of you”.  You’re one of the best ones in this profession and you will be greatly missed. I’m thankful that God put you in my path. I’m a better person and coach for it.”

David Sutterfield, West Plains defensive coordinator, former Bushland assistant football coach
“Jimmy was a friend and mentor. He hired me at Bushland which allowed me to coach my son. He allowed that dream to come true. Jimmy was never afraid to show his faith and was a great Christian example. I am a better person because of him. I miss you, Jimmy, and love you. See you soon.”

Bryan Welps, River Road head football coach 
“Jimmy Thomas was truly a good man and a friend. Jimmy was always fun to visit with and made sure to stay in touch with us weekly. Jimmy was a true coach that built every program he had into great programs and taught boys to be men.  Jimmy was a good Christian man, a veteran, a great Husband, and father and true man of character. He will be truly missed and a true brother to all coaches out here. A true mentor.”

Joey Read, Dalhart head football coach
“Jimmy was a great coach, and he was my friend. Prayers go out to his family, all his friends, past and present players, and coaches. Jimmy was always the first to congratulate you on your wins and let you know that your team played hard when you lost. He will be greatly missed. He’s a true leader and role model to us all.”

Aaron Dunnam, Dumas head football coach
“Coach Jimmy Thomas was a man of faith. Never did a day go by that he was not praising God for all his many blessings. His impact on the lives he touched in so many different communities and school districts will live on forever. He was the light in the darkness that always found the positive in every situation. He definitely grew God’s Kingdom in his time on this earth.”

Greg Poynor, Seminole head football coach 
“I considered Jimmy to be one of my best friends. He and I spent my late-night hours talking offense and defense but way more than that talking about the coaching profession and our struggles and triumphs. I loved that Jimmy would share his faith. He was a great example in that way for me. Anytime I was going through a tough time he was one of the first people I would think about calling. I will miss him tremendously. My only consolation is knowing that he is finally home.”

Chris Koetting, Canadian head football coach
“I was so saddened to hear that my good friend Jimmy Thomas passed away. Jimmy was a good man and coach. Anytime I went against Jimmy I knew we would be in a battle. I sure enjoyed the long talks on the phone with him about our kids and I will miss that.”

Jeff Caffey, Shamrock head football coach
“Jimmy lived his life devoted to his wife and his kids. Nothing meant more to him than them. In that devotion to his family, he taught them to the path to salvation in our lord Jesus Christ. As a Christian man Jimmy was a servant leader to everyone around him but most of all his coaching staff and his athletes. His faith in his team pushed many beyond what they thought or even believed they could be just in his belief. As his friend he helped me in more ways than he’ll ever know just like many others by just being Jimmy. He is the example of living Faith, Family, & Football. I love you my dear friend.”

DJ Mann, Lubbock Coronado head football coach
“Jimmy was as solid as they came. He was always a joy to talk to, and he wanted nothing but the best for kids.”

Chris Fisher, Plano Sr. High School defensive backs coach, former Palo Duro head football coach 
“Coach Thomas was a man that loved the Lord, his family, and the communities he served. He also loved the profession of coaching. He truly loved giving advice and encouragement to any coach that needed it. Losing him hurts me personally and our profession has lost a man of character.”

Brian Poynor, Seminole offensive coordinator
“What a huge loss for the coaching community. It’s hard to put into words the impact that Jimmy had across our area. He was a friend, coach, and mentor that I respected tremendously. He was a man that made everyone around him better. He will be missed dearly by all that had the opportunity to know him.”

Kyle Lynch, Seminole superintendent 
“My heart goes out to the Thomas family. It was my pleasure to watch Jimmy grow into the great leader he became. I had the opportunity to coach him at Sanford-Fritch HS in 1987-88. As you might expect, he was a tough, gritty kid that would do anything to help the team be successful. But it was his influence as a coach that I admired most. He truly understood the importance of his role in helping his players develop into men of character. He was a winner, but his true legacy will be the players that live out the integrity Jimmy instilled in them. Lots of coaches proclaim to prioritize Faith, Family and Football. But Jimmy lived it.”

Amarillo ISD athletic department
“Coach Thomas was a champion advocate for kids and coaches around the state. Coach Thomas was the architect of many great teams. He possessed the ability to connect and motivate players from all different backgrounds to achieve a common goal. His faith and servant’s heart aided in mentoring numerous successful coaches. His contributions to our profession are endless. He will be greatly missed. Prayers and condolences to his family, students, and friends.”

Canyon ISD athletic department 
“Coach Thomas was a class act. He always had a kind word and was willing to help other coaches in the area. Coaching is a brotherhood and sisterhood. We for sure lost a brother in his passing.”

Andy Nies, River Road assistant superintendent and classmate of Thomas 
“He was an amazing man and a great friend. He served his country, God and family unconditionally. Jimmy influenced so many in his life and he will truly be missed.”

Lance Lahnert, SportsStar Drive at 5 radio host
“The first time I met Coach Thomas he made me feel like a celeb – and old! – by telling me how growing up in Fritch he was a fan of mine and enjoyed reading the stuff I wrote in the Amarillo Globe-News. Through the years it was I whom became the fan of Jimmy Thomas. Always upbeat. Always having an encouraging word. Always a joy to be around. Always wearing his faith in Jesus Christ on his sleeve.”

Kameron Mathis, former Bushland quarterback
“Coach Thomas was one of the good ones. His passion for football was unmatched, but his desire to grow boys into men of Christ was even greater. He not only made an impact in my life but impacted the entire community of Bushland for many years. We sat for hours at coaching school not only talking X’s and O’s and the game of football, but how awesome it is to be called “dad”, how amazing our spouses are, and how great God has been to both of us. You will be truly missed Coach T. Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for your guidance. Thank you for your friendship.”

Colton Moore, former Bushland quarterback
“This one hurts. Through everything in life, you stood by my side. From the field to the church, the day I got baptized, you were always there. You helped me grow as a man and the lessons you taught me will never be forgotten. Thank you, coach Thomas, for the positive impact you made on my life and the lives of many others. You treated me like one of your own and you never failed to let me know how proud you were. Most importantly you allowed me to grow in my faith. You always assured me that things would work out as long as I kept God first. I’m sure the football talks with God will keep you busy up there. Thank you for being you. I love you coach Thomas.”

Slade Phillips, former Bushland wide receiver-linebacker 
“Coach Thomas loved each of his players like they were his own. He always said that football lessons learned on the field would stay with us throughout life. He was absolutely right. Coach Thomas was truly loved and will be greatly missed.”

Skyler Jaco, former Bushland wide receiver-defensive back
“Coach Thomas was a great mentor, coach, and friend. He didn’t just try to coach us on the field, but he tried to coach us in life as well. He truly cared about each of his players and their success in the future. He would put others first and care for them before he would think of himself. He taught me and many others the will of hard work and how to never let little things get in your way, and always work for what you want.”

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