Danielle Thomas said she never saw it coming. But when she walked into her regular end-of-season review meeting with Tecumseh athletic director Craig Eier she knew something was up. Principal Aaron Oakes was in the room.
“They told me that they know I’m old school and they were going to go a different direction with the program and not recommend me to the board again,” Thomas said Sunday evening.
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That meeting was Friday morning. After 12 successful years as head coach of the Tecumseh girls basketball program, Thomas is out of coaching for now.
“It really came out of the blue,” she said. “I am completely shocked. I had zero counseling sessions, I was never written up or brought in telling me that this changes or you’re at risk of losing your job, nothing.”
Eier said Saturday he would not comment on the decision.
Thomas said the meeting was short because there was not much to discuss. She said she was not told of any complaints from parents or anyone else.
“He did mention at one point that yelling doesn’t always look positive,” Thomas said of Eier. “I’ve been coaching that way for 12 years for Tecumseh. I honestly felt like, personally analyzing myself, that I was less vocal this year than any year because I’ve coached this group so long. They were good. There wasn’t much to yell about.”
Thomas led the Arrows to a 17-8 record and their fourth straight Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division championship this season. She compiled a record of 184-99 and won five league titles in the past seven years. She had losing seasons in her first three years, but the Arrows never won fewer than 14 games in the ensuing seasons. They won 23 games in 2012-13 and 22 in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Thomas said there were rumors that she would resign after this season because her daughter Corinne is graduating and will play at NCAA Division II West Liberty in West Virginia. But Thomas wanted to come back and coach the next group of good young players. The incoming freshman class had two undefeated seasons in middle school.
Soon after her meeting on Friday she announced on Twitter that she had been fired.
“I did it because I honestly wanted people to realize that by no means did I walk away from this program,” she said. “I wanted to coach. My word is huge in my life, and I’d just got done standing up in front of people on Wednesday night [at the athletic banquet] saying I was coming back, that I wanted to coach again.”
Thomas’ legacy at Tecumseh also includes the top five scorers in school history led by career scoring leader Bianca Quisenberry, who scored 2,349 points and went on to play at Cincinnati. Corinne Thomas is second with 2,111 points. Presley Griffitts, a senior on this year’s team, is fourth on the list and will play at Division I IUPUI in Indianapolis. Lindsey Nartker and Danielle Franklin, both 2016 graduates, are third and fifth on the list. Quisenberry, Thomas, Griffitts and Nartker each earned all-state recognition.
Thomas, who lives in the Tecumseh school district, said she wants to coach again.
“I know there’s a place for me in high school girls basketball or basketball in general,” she said. “I love it. It’s my passion. You’ve got to make yourself vulnerable because there’s not enough good coaches – there’s definitely not enough women coaches in high school sports.”
Thomas said she has a good job at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base so a new coaching job would likely be in the immediate area. She said she’s already been contacted about available openings.
“It would have to be the right situation and the right opportunity and there would be a lot of conversations,” she said. “And that’s what I keep telling the people that are already contacting me.”
If a youth program is to continue at Tecumseh, it will be in someone else’s hands as well. Thomas started it for third- through sixth-graders in her second year.
“If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing,” Thomas said. “I wouldn’t change devoting 12 years to Tecumseh girls basketball for all the lives it’s touched.”