Thomson Proven Durable When Tested
And it's exactly what K-State women's basketball redshirt sophomore Kelly Thomson has done. Thomson suffered an ACL tear the week before her freshman season of 2012-13 began. The injury forced her to redshirt and sit on the sidelines. Then, in February of the following season (2013-14), she suffered yet another ACL tear and was sent back to the bench to recover.
"The first one was really devastating, then the second one was even more so. You work so hard and go through so much to try and come back, and to have it happen again right off the bat, it was awful," explained Thomson on her injuries.
Though it was tough, the 5-foot-9 guard hasn't let it get her down. Thomson returned to the court this past season on Dec. 20, 2014, and has continued to work hard every day since. Despite overcoming more in two seasons than most basketball players will face in their entire career, she has found a way to always keep a smile on her face.
So, that's why naming this year's 1st Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade Tammie Romstad Durable Award winner came as a no-brainer to all those involved.
Dedicated by the team's partner unit, the 1st Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade, and named after two-time Wade Trophy finalist and K-State Hall of Famer, Tammie Romstad, the Durable Award is presented to the player who, like Romstad during her Wildcat career (1978-82), overcame adversity.
"We've been partners with the women's basketball team for several years now, and I've noticed that the other units on Fort Riley that are partnered with other K-State teams give out awards at the teams' banquets," explained Col. Robert A. Law, III, Commander of the 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Infantry Division on Fort Riley. "So I thought, with the new coaching staff coming on board, it would be a great way to help cement our partnership."
When Col. Law presented his idea to K-State head coach Jeff Mittie and his staff, everyone was on board with it. The vision Col. Law had for the award fit perfectly with Mittie's vision to name the award after Romstad, and with that, the first annual 1st Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade Tammie Romstad Durable Award was born.
"What Col. Law wanted the award to mean, in researching former K-State players, Tammie Romstad fit that vision," explained Mittie. "This year we were looking for ways to tie our current players to players who had accomplished great things at K-State in the past, and I felt like this award was the perfect marriage between the brigade, Tammie Romstad and Kelly."
But that's only half the story; the trophy itself - now that is a sight to see.
Designed and hand-crafted by Fort Riley soldiers, this trophy is truly one of a kind.
"It's a soldier-made award that the team can have in the basketball office," explained Col. Law. "I told the soldiers that it needs to be in some way, shape, or form representative of a basketball, and they came up with the idea on their own. It's the work of their own creative talents. They made it, and I certainly thought it turned out exceptionally well."
The brigade's welders bent steel to shape a purple and black basketball on top of a solid trophy base that displays the words: discipline, training, morale and teamwork. Thomson's name - the first of many to come - was engraved into a purple dog tag and secured on the trophy's base with a matching dog tag made and given to Thomson to keep.
"When he told me they were going to make it themselves, that was a cool addition to what he had already offered up," said Mittie. "I think it makes it even more special that soldiers made this award. You can tell they put a lot of work into it."
On receiving the 2015 1st Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade Tammie Romstad Durable Award Thomson said, "I had no idea (I won the award) until they announced it. I was super emotional when it first happened because it just kind of brought everything back. Getting that award, it made me emotional to think about what I've done and think about how far I've come since I've been here. It's exciting to know that people recognize that and that they notice the hard work I've put into it. It's nice to know that I'm back into it now, healthy, and that all the hard work was worth it."
During the 2014-15 season, Thomson saw action in 17 games, grabbing six rebounds and scoring three points. Finally back on the court, Thomson is excited to see what the future holds as she continues to work at bettering her game since her injuries.
"I talked to Coach Mittie on the phone about Tammie and what she did, how she overcame her own injuries and had a fabulous career at Kansas State," explained Col. Law. "So, when we looked at the names that were given, obviously with the injuries that Kelly has had, just getting back on the court and playing it's a similar story to Tammie's.
"Kelly is a remarkable young lady; very well spoken, very polite and then when you see her on the court, she's charging hard to help the team. She's battled back from two very serious injuries that aren't little things."
The first of many to come, this new award will only continue to strengthen the bond between the Wildcats and their partner unit on Fort Riley, and Thomson's name will now go down in Wildcat history because of her durability both on and off the court.
"With her name being affixed to that trophy," Law said, "she'll be forever a part of the history of the partnership because of what she's overcome, how she's battled and how she's had the tenacity and kept going when she easily could have quit."
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