Aug. 29, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue track and field teams filled the final coaching vacancy, head coach Lonnie Greene announced on Wednesday. Althea Thomas has been hired as an assistant track and field coach and recruiting coordinator.
"Althea is a young, dynamic sprint coach," Greene said. "She has an eye for recruiting and she is considered one of the best recruiting coordinators in the game. She is a young, shooting star and I thought she would bring a dynamic to our group of coaches that would help us find the right student-athletes to become Boilermakers."
Thomas comes to Purdue from the University of Kentucky where she served as an assistant track and field coach for two years. With the Wildcats, she coached 10 athletes to a total of 25 all-time top 10 honors in program history. Thomas also helped coach one SEC Conference Champion, one NCAA Regional Champion, one First Team All-American, and three Second Team All-Americans. The new Purdue assistant also led one freshman to SEC Freshman of the Week honors last season and a 2012 Penn Relays 4x100m Champion. Aside from helping with recruiting efforts, Thomas is also a USATF certified coach as a sprint, hurdle, and relay events specialist.
Prior to her time with Kentucky, Thomas spent two years as an assistant track and field coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. There, she guided two Conference USA Champions and two top three finishers in the conference in the multi-events. Thomas also helped coach NCAA Regional qualifiers in the high jump, 100m hurdles, and 400m hurdles. She also helped with strength and conditioning.
Aside from college assistant coaching, Thomas has also worked on a volunteer basis with clubs as well as at Louisiana State University. From 2005-2010, she worked with the Alabama Striders Track Club. Prior to that, she was a volunteer with the Tigers for one year. Thomas also has a year of coaching experience in the high school ranks where she coach nine division 2 Class B All-State athletes in Massachusetts.
Not only is Thomas an accomplished coach, she was also a standout athlete at LSU from 1999-2003. With the Tigers, Thomas helped lead the program to NCAA Outdoor National Championships in 2000 and 2003. She competed in the 400m hurdles where she was a conference finalist in 2000, 2001, and 2002. She also participated in the 4x400m relay. In 2000, her relay team had the fastest time of the year with a mark of 3:34. Thomas was a provisional national qualifier in the 800m indoor championships in 2003 and regional and national qualifier in the 400m hurdles for the outdoor season in 2004.
"Althea was a student-athlete at LSU from 1999-2003 while I was at Arkansas and I got to watch her as an athlete," Coach Greene said of Thomas. "Later on, I was speaking at a clinic in Birmingham, Ala., and she walked in a group of her colleagues. Then, she ended up at UAB where she turned the program around. Next, she was at Kentucky where she was very, very effective. I really liked what I saw in her at both of her previous institutions and wanted to bring her on board to fill the gaps that will present themselves as we go forward."
Thomas earned her undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University in 2004. She earned Dean's List honors for one semester and was on the SEC Honor Roll twice. Thomas also earned the Director's Cup Award for academic excellence in 2003.
Thomas continued her education while coaching at UAB and Kentucky. While at UAB, Thomas worked towards her M.S. in exercise Physiology where she was able to maintain a 4.0 GPA. She also worked towards an M.S. in the same field at Kentucky.
"I would like to echo the same sentiments for Althea as I have for Norbert Elliott, Berry Shumpert, and Dave Hartman as they joined the staff," said Greene. "She is young and dynamic and I am very excited about what she brings to our program."