One visit to East Tennessee University hooked Abbey Thomas.
East Tennessee’s community-like atmosphere reminded Thomas of Charles B. Aycock High School, where she starred on the volleyball team for the last four seasons.
But that was not the only thing that drew Thomas to the Division I volleyball program. She had a Zoom call with her new coaches and teammates, who made Thomas feel like she was already on the team, which made a significant impression.
“It feels good to be official and know for sure where I’m going. I was on NCSA (Next College Student Athlete and I’m really glad I found East Tennessee,” Thomas said. “I had a Zoom call the night before I committed and talking to everyone, I knew that’s where I wanted to be.
“We took a family trip to the mountains and visited ourselves because of all the restrictions.”
A four-year varsity starter, Thomas made it official Thursday afternoon. The middle hitter signed a national letter of intent to play volleyball at East Tennessee University in Johnson City, Tennessee, next fall.
Thomas, who also plays softball and basketball, was drawn to East Tennessee’s campus and its picturesque scenery.
In three seasons, Thomas helped lead C.B. Aycock to 42 victories and three appearances in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3A playoffs. For her career, she has 619 kills, 526 digs, 344 blocks and 180 aces.
And Thomas is hoping to lead the Golden Falcons back into the playoffs this season.
“She’s a phenomenal volleyball player,” C.B. Aycock head coach Kimberly Hughes said. “She’s worked really hard, so I’m not surprised to see her sign.”
Thomas said she is thankful for just getting on the court for her senior season because playing sports during the COVID-19 pandemic is a blessing.
“I love playing at Aycock. We all get along, and we’re a solid team, so it’s a great program to be in,” Thomas said. “This season has been exciting because we didn’t know if we were going to play or not, but it’s to play and to treat every game like it could be your last one.”
On the softball ball diamond, she posted a career .494 batting average to go along with a .531 on-base percentage, 66 RBIs, 23 doubles, and six home runs. The Golden Falcons have been playoffs every season with Thomas on the softball roster.
During her junior season playing basketball, Thomas averaged 11 points, 11 rebounds per game, and Thomas credits her athletic success from playing three different sports.
“All three sports have movements that go together,” Thomas said. “They all help each other.”
Thomas realizes that her visit to East Tennessee was the tip of the iceberg, and when she returns to Johnson City next fall, she will undoubtedly be ready to fly high on the college level.