Former football star offers words of wisdom to Patti Welder students
March 22, 2014 at 10:01 p.m.
Updated March 22, 2014 at 10:23 p.m.
Ron Thomas wore a black polo and a visitor's sticker as he spoke passionately to a group of seventh-grade students at Patti Welder Middle School.
"Let these coaches show you the proper way to train yourselves," said Thomas, a Patti Welder alum and former Memorial High School, two-time All-American football player.
Thomas, a security guard at Victoria West High School, was invited to speak to Patti Welder male athletes by his former coach, Allen Leason.
Thomas' message was shared with about 40 students that day, Leason said.
"I needed to find a way to get my kids more motivated to lift," Leason said. "He was a real good athlete for Victoria, and so was his father."
Ronnie Thomas, Thomas' father, died at age 50 in 2012 and was commonly known as the best athlete to have come out of Victoria.
Before his death, Thomas' father had been working in youth homes across the state.
Now, his son is following in his footsteps.
"It feels good; right now, I'm coaching my son's little league team," Thomas said. "I'm just trying to be a good influence on kids and keep them off the streets."
The speech occurred about a month after a seventh-grade Patti Welder student brought an unloaded gun to campus.
Thomas, 29, warned the youths of the dangers of veering away from an academic path.
He dealt with the same neighborhood dynamics Patti Welder students are dealing with now, Thomas said.
"A handful of my old friends from school are in prison right now," Thomas said. "Or dead."
Thomas suffered a major knee injury before the start of his senior year and later attended Blinn College for two and a half years, earning an associate degree.
Thomas said he has plans to speak with the Victoria West football players and other students in the Crossroads region.
He counted off the positions he used to play on his fingers to the crowd.
"I probably had one of the best experiences in high school that someone can usually only dream of," Thomas said.