Sheila Dang
Mercury Staff

Former three-time ASC champion desires to build relationships through coaching UTD women

Many people spend a considerable amount of their lives searching for the perfect career, or finding out their path was the wrong one. 


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For Polly Thomason, head coach of UTD women’s basketball team, this was never the case. 

Growing up with a father who coached junior high and high school basketball, Thomason began playing basketball herself at five years old and quickly discovered her passion.

“My dad was a coach and that’s how I caught the bug as far as wanting to get into the profession,” she said. “I always knew I wanted to be a coach and I wanted to be at the collegiate level.”

Thomason won three ASC championships while playing at Austin College, where she also received her degree in exercise science and history. From there, she pursued her master’s at the University of Tennessee, and then became head coach of UTD’s women’s basketball team in the 2005-2006 season.

One might think that recruiting at a Division III school is no small feat, but Thomason said that the academic focus at UTD has actually helped to bring in quality players both on and off the court.

“You have to get them to believe that the education they’re going to get from UTD is going to be worth giving up an athletic scholarship at another university,” Thomason said. “You have to find those players that are committed to academics and understand the importance of academics. I think UTD is really one of the easiest schools to recruit to as far as the reputation.”

Now in her eighth season at UTD, Thomason has watched many of her players grow from shy freshman to successful women in their senior year. She has attended several weddings, and one of her former players is now pregnant. 

“By the time they’re seniors, I’ve developed a relationship with them where I can get text messages from them late at night whether it’s good or bad,” Thomason said. “But if they need help or if they need anything from me, they feel like they can reach out and do those things and that’s what I really love about coaching.”

This season, Thomason reintroduced a team-building activity that she used several seasons ago. The team will be divided into six groups and each will be in charge of pumping up the team before each conference game.

“It’ll be interesting to see what they come up with,” Thomason said. “There are no rules, so if they have a poem, a quote or a rap, it’s whatever they want the team to take into the game.”