The twin daughters of Craig and Marla signed their letters of intent Thursday afternoon to play both basketball and track at Heidelberg University. The Norwalk High School seniors are undecided on their majors.
The decision to attend Heidelberg was an organic process as the teenagers discussed their options.
“Jada was set on Miami. Then she swayed to Wooster; that was (for) just pure academics,” Craig Thomas said.
Jasmine, on the other hand, originally was looking at Cleveland State University.
“She didn’t want to consider any other schools,” her father said. “The more they talked, the more Heidelberg came in position.”
The elder Thomas said having both of his daughters attend Heidelberg could be a challenge since they will see each other and may have a few classes together, but also will do many things separately.
“They will still have some bond,” he added. “They’ll have each other to lean on.”
“Being close is a good thing for them. The campus is beautiful. The people are really nice,” his wife said.
The sisters agree that Heidelberg has a close-knit, family atmosphere.
“Everyone is so nice,” Jasmine said.
Her sister said the school has a good academic program and the people are “kind and welcoming.”
When it comes to sports, the Thomas girls mutually decided if one of them was involved in track, the other agreed to play basketball at Heidelberg.
Jasmine prefers basketball.
“She just likes to get out there on the floor,” her father said. “She’s always loved basketball.”
While Jasmine has played soccer longer, he said his daughter has been more in love with basketball.
Looking back on her time with the Truckers basketball team, Jasmine said she wanted to send a big thank you to teammates Kaelyn Harkness and Bethany Cring. Also, she expressed her appreciation for head coach Brock Manlet and assistant coach Chris Harkness in pushing her to be a better player.
Manlet called the Thomas girls two of the most athletic players in the program and crucial to their success.
“They are intense; they want to win,” he added.
Meanwhile, Jada prefers running. She started participating in cross country in the seventh grade and said she particularly enjoys the long jump because she can see a lot of results.
Jada said she appreciated cross country coach Drew Karnehm for “helping me through hard times and (he’s) pushed me to be better.”
Norwalk assistant track coach Mark Sindlinger said the Thomas girls work extremely hard, and he expects them to be great members of any community they join.
“Best of all, they’re great people,” he added.
Head track coach Ron DeLuca considers the Thomas sisters “the nucleus of our team,” noting they have been pushed to work extremely hard — sometimes beyond what they should.
“But they stood up and did it,” he said. “They will be gone, but not forgotten.”