Rain Thomas is having an active Grade 8 year in Vancouver by competing in both basketball and soccer. (Nicky McConnell photos)
Rain Thomas realizes she’ll in all likelihood have to make a tough decision in the coming years and concentrate on just one sport.
But for now the 13-year-old, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation who grew up in Vancouver, will continue to do her best to excel in a couple of sports, basketball and soccer, while also thriving in a new school.
Thomas was accepted into Vancouver’s York House School, one of the top private girls’ schools in British Columbia, last year. She began her Grade 8 studies at the school this past September.
Thanks to a scholarship available through the York House School as well as some provincial funding that she is eligible for, Thomas’ tuition of more than $21,000 is fully covered for this academic year.
Should she maintain an A average, Thomas will continue to have all of her tuition expenses at the Vancouver school paid for, from Grades 9-12 inclusive.
So far so good for Thomas. On her first-term report card she received straight As.
Thomas, who aspires to be an engineer, is hoping to eventually go on and play either soccer or basketball at the university level. At this point she said the two sports are “tied” in terms of her preference.
But she realizes she won’t be able to play two sports forever.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say I’d be giving up one sport,” she said. “But I might have to put one on hold.”
But that’s not in her immediate future. She’s hoping to star in both sports in her new school.
Thomas’ mother Nicky McConnell said the family first heard about York House School when her daughter was in Grade 6 and they were looking into possible private schools for her to attend. Thomas set her sights on York House when she discovered the school’s high provincial ranking.
“From then on that’s what she wanted to do,” McConnell said.
Thomas has always been a high academic achiever. Combine that with her sporting exploits, and McConnell said the family, including her husband Ivan Thomas, were not that surprised their daughter was offered a spot at the highly regarded school.
“I didn’t think it was a far-fetched idea on getting a scholarship there,” she said.
Thomas is currently playing for the York House School’s Grade 8 basketball team. Once she finishes up with that team, she’ll start preparing for the spring soccer season at the school.
Thomas is also pursuing both sports outside of the school.
She is a member of the Vancouver FC, which competes in the Metro Selects League. And she was recently invited to train with Fusion FC, a Vancouver-based high performance squad.
Thomas is rather pleased with this invite, which will consist of an initial four-week training session.
“The work that I’ve done has paid off for me,” said Thomas, who had her first Fusion FC workout last week.
Thomas’ efforts during the month-long workouts will determine whether she will be asked to continue training with the Fusion FC side.
Thomas is also looking for a club basketball team to play for. Her prowess in this sport is evidenced by the fact this past fall she participated in six weeks of training run by Basketball BC’s Centre of Performance Program. These training sessions were staged at the Langley Events Centre.
Besides her school basketball team, Thomas is also gearing up to play some hoops for another squad soon. She will be suiting up for the VanCity Reign at the Junior All-Native Tournament. This prestigious annual tourney, which features indigenous squads from across British Columbia, will be staged in Vancouver in March.
As for the most memorable highlight on Thomas’ basketball resume, that occurred this past summer. She was a member of the British Columbia girls’ under-14 side that captured the silver medal at the North American Indigenous Games staged in Toronto.
Unlike hockey and lacrosse, which seem to complement each other well, basketball and soccer are not similar sports. But Thomas said she benefits from combining the sports because she realizes the teamwork that is necessary in both to have success on either the court or the pitch.
McConnell also likes the fact her daughter is participating in two sports now.
“As a multi-sport athlete I’m happy it’s not the same repetitive motions she’s doing on her body,” she said, adding basketball is more of a vertical sport with plenty of jumping up and down while soccer is more of a running sport with bursts of sprints thrown in.