From the Cape Breton Capers; words by Corey LeBlanc
CAPE BRETON — Christina Thomas has her sights set on becoming a social worker.
“I want to help people – I think there is a need for it,” she says of her career aspiration.
The Grade 12 student at Memorial High School in Sydney Mines will start on that path in the fall as a freshman at Cape Breton University (CBU).
Along with studying in the Bachelor of Arts in Community Studies (BACS) program, Thomas will take the court as a member of the Cape Breton Capers Women’s Basketball program.
“It wasn’t even a thought,” she says of joining the perennial contender in Atlantic University Sport (AUS).
“I always wanted to – just hope to [be a Caper] – and now it is happening.”
Thomas adds, “It is very exciting.”
The 17-year-old, who grew up in North Sydney, played four seasons in the Cape Breton High School Basketball League with the Memorial Marauders; her career at that level highlighted by a league MVP nod for the 2020-21 campaign.
“I love the competitiveness of the game,” she says of her beloved sport, one she started playing in Grade 2.
She enjoyed sharing that passion with her friends.
“It was always fun – I knew right away that I wanted to play for the rest of my life,” Thomas adds.
By Grade 6, the now 5’4″ guard remembers she began to realize – if she continued to work hard – she could take the hardwood at a high level.
Not surprisingly – considering her dream of helping others as a social worker – Thomas relishes racking up assists.
“I think I am a very good passer,” she offers.
Caper head coach Fabian McKenzie agrees.
“Christina is a nifty passer,” he says, noting her ability to get the ball to her teammates, especially from long distances, and with great pace.
McKenzie credits her talent as a softball player as a key to developing that skill set.
“I also love to drive to the basket,” Thomas says, which she notes is aided by her ball-handling ability – something she is always working on.
She adds another one of the strengths of her game is her shooting, which she also constantly tries to improve.
“I am always working on my game,” she says, noting that dedication has ramped up since she started training with the Capers.
Thomas adds she realizes her move to the university level will be a “big jump,” particularly the adjustment to the “speed of the game.”
“I am going to work as hard as I can,” she notes of the effort required to make that transition.
McKenzie says Thomas is “an AUS athlete, for sure.”
“She doesn’t have the experience at this level yet,” he says of playing guard.
McKenzie credits Thomas for “always asking questions” as part of her early days with the program.
“Christina wants to be good, and she is willing to put in the time to continue to improve,” he says.
McKenzie adds she is “very quick,” and displays strong “anticipation” on the floor.
As for how she is going to feel, when she takes the court at Sullivan Field House in Caper colours for the first time, Thomas admits, “I will be nervous – for sure – but it is going to be exciting.”
She agrees having the opportunity to play in front of family and friends will be a ‘dream come true.’
Thomas says, so far, her experience with Caper Athletics – and the women’s basketball program – has been great.
“Everyone has been very welcoming – they made me feel like part of the team, right away.”
- T. Bennett