After two years of pushing through pain and tears with a blind love for her sport, April Thomas was honored with one of the most prestigious titles a student-athlete can receive last month: the Mountain West Conference Female Athlete of the Year
While carrying a 4.0 grade point average and taking care of several injuries throughout each season, the cross-country runner became the second student in CSU history to obtain the conference’s highest honor.
The Mountain West Conference Athlete of the Year honor is given to two student athletes who have shown excellence in both academics and athletics. Thomas, a Dean’s List honoree and President’s Honor Roll recipient, also received the MWC’s Scholar-Athlete award for the past three years.
Thomas was unable to run during the first two years of college due to injuries. Chronic hip pain, stress fractures and muscle strains plagued the former Eaglecrest High School standout, causing her to miss cross country practices and meets.
This past year, however, proved to be more successful. In addition to leading the women’s cross-country team to a victory at the Mountain West Championships and placing first overall, Thomas also won the Colorado State Classic meet.
While her injuries may have prevented her from achieving her full potential as a runner, overcoming them has only made her stronger, Thomas said, “Having an injury just makes my performance and accomplishments that much more rewarding.”
During the 2008 outdoor track and field season, Thomas ran in the first women’s championship.
Thomas and her twin sister Melissa, also a CSU cross-country and track athlete, had never been able to run a race together prior to this past track season due to separate injuries, she said.
“It was great to finally have her with me,” she said. “She made life better this last season.”
Thomas completed her undergraduate degree in biology this past spring. She credits her academic success while being a CSU athlete to time management. The best tactics in order to manage both time and commitments involve prioritizing, she said. She found that avoiding procrastination before tests and races was crucial.
“It’s a matter of caring,” she said. “If you do care, it’s possible. That’s how I was successful.”
She currently lives in Breckenridge, and is working in real estate business in the area of office administration.
A history enthusiast, Thomas hopes eventually to visit Europe.
One of her goals is to visit each of the Seven Wonders of the World.
As a recent graduate, Thomas doesn’t want to put too much pressure on herself in terms of the future. Over time she would like to return to school to honor her post-grad scholarship. Though she loves to learn, she is unsure of what her focused study area will be, but expects to have a clearer perspective once she resumes her academic pursuits.
“Right now I just want to go with the flow,” she said. “In general, I hope that the pieces of the puzzle just fit together as I go through life.”
Staff writer Kate Bennis can be reached at email@example.com.