Monday, April 20, 2015
V5 N 35 Charlie Thomas, Texas A&M Coach RIP
Charlie Thomas, former Texas A&M track and field head coach for 32 years, passed away Monday in Bryan at the age of 83. Named the head coach at Texas A&M at the age of 28 in 1959, Thomas coached his share of great athletes while some of the world’s best sharpened their skills under his direction.
Even after his retirement in 1990, his enthusiasm for the sport and the success of Aggie endeavors never wavered.
“Charlie was a great athlete and coach, but just as important as that he was also a true gentleman and leader within our sport,” said Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry. “He was a great Aggie who loved Texas A&M. He will never be forgotten in the track and field world and will live on here at Texas A&M for being the coach and man he was for his athletes and this institution.”
The family will receive friends from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Friday, January 30, 2015 at Memorial Funeral Chapel in Bryan. A private family graveside service will be held at a later time.
During his coaching career at Texas A&M, Thomas coached eight world and American record holders, three Olympic gold medalists, two Olympic silver medalists, nine Olympic qualifiers, 22 NCAA individual champions, and seven collegiate record holders.
Aggie athletes under his direction were awarded 105 All-America honors and included 124 SWC individual champions. His teams also excelled in winning SWC outdoor and indoor titles as well as placing among the top 10 at the NCAA Championships with second, third, fourth, and sixth place finishes among Texas A&M’s best efforts.
Coach Thomas was inducted into the University of Texas Hall of Honor in 1981, Meet of Champions Hall of Fame in 1985, Border Olympics Hall of Fame in 1990 and The Texas A&M Hall of Fame in 1996.
He joins D.X. Bible as the only two people to be honored by the Longhorn Hall of Honor and the Texas A&M Hall of Fame.
In high school Thomas won five gold medals in the Texas State meet as a sprinter at Splendora and Cleveland high schools between 1948 and 1950.
While attending the University of Texas, he never lost a 220 yard race in the state of Texas during his career. In 1952, he anchored the University of Texas world record in the 440 yard sprint relay. In 1954 he ranked number one in the world in the 220 yard sprint.
Thomas competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1952 after his sophomore season and finished fourth in the 220 yard trials; missing a place on the U.S. Olympic team by inches. He could not compete in the 1956 trials because he was considered a “professional” as a track coach.
After graduating from the University of Texas with a certificate as an athletic trainer, Charlie was the head track coach at East Texas State University from 1956-1958; leading his teams to three straight Lone Star Conference championships. While coaching at East Texas State, he received his Master's Degree.
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