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Adean Thomas (left) of Jamaica catches the ball ahead of Sabreena Smith of Barbados during the third and final game of their three-Test series inside the National Areana on Monday night. (Photo: Collin Reid)
Like the deejay on the microphone, when it comes to the Sunshine Girls, Adean Thomas is the vibes master. One who gets the 'greatest motivation' from her teammates, Thomas is full of energy and has a way of transferring it to the Jamaica senior national netball team.
“Before a match when we're at the house (Netball House), I always make a little vibe with them; either we dance, we sing or something, and everyone's like, 'Adean, I feed off your energy, so if you don't have the energy I won't have any,'” she admitted.
“So I'm always motivating them to the best. So when I step on the court and they throw away the ball or miss a shot, I'd say like 'Come on Thristina (Harwood), come on Carla' … like what happened in the second game when we blew out Barbados, because I was always motivating everyone on the court,” she added.
“That's what they love about me. And once I motivate them and I see them trying, that motivates me more to do great things.”
Thomas brought much of that energy to the Jamaica-Barbados three-Test series at the National Arena which ended on Monday night in a one-all draw. The teams tied the first game 44-44 on Friday, Jamaica won the second 40-34 on Sunday and then lost the third 41-43 on Monday night.
A fighter who leaves it all on the court, Thomas had one reason to smile on Monday night as she won the award for being the Best Centre throughout the series.
With its top players competing in the ANZ and England Super League, Jamaica included some Under-21s preparing for netball's World Youth Championship in Botswana to add numbers to the senior Sunshine Girls.
Contrastingly, Barbados had their Netball World Cup squad and the benefit of longer preparation as they are aiming for ranking points towards 2018 Commonwealth Games qualification.
Still, the Jamaicans, the world's number four-ranked country, are ruing the fact that they lost the match against the world number 12-ranked team.
As the series was accepted at short notice, Thomas believes incorporating the younger national reps in training with the seniors on an ongoing basis could alleviate such pitfalls.
“With the Under-21s thrown into the senior team, I think they should step up everyone and just work with them so that when other tournaments come around and we're short of players everyone will be ready. I think they need to do that fill in some of the U-21 players in the senior team because there's not a lot of us on the senior team, the experienced players,” reasoned Thomas.
“So we'll work with the Under-21 players, let them go to tours, get experience so that when these series come around we won't have to be picking up persons like a week before and be trying to work with them,” she continued.
“But it was a good series; everyone did their best. We lost tonight, but it's something we have to go to the drawing board and work on and just make sure that Barbados doesn't beat us again, or even tie the series, because we're ranked number four and they're ranked number 12.
“I wanted to win, but it's hard luck. I know we'll get them back next time.”
That could be the Caribbean championships later this year. Thomas has represented Jamaica against regional opponents in the past, but at the Under-16 and Under-13 levels where the Jamaican teams were successful.
She has also played for Jamaica at Under-21s and won bronze at the Youth Netball World Championship in Glasgow, Scotland.
At club level, Thomas, 22, won the Berger Elite League with St Ann Orchids. She has also represented Up Park Camp, the established Waulgrovians, and GC Foster College of Physical Education and Sport where she is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree.
Prior to the Angels-based institution, Thomas attended St Hugh's High and Rollington Town Primary. It is while attending the latter that she got involved in the sport.
“I was doing track and field, and when I was in grade five I had PE classes in netball and the coach thought I was a good player and from then I started playing netball,” reminisced Thomas, who feels great pride representing her country.
“It feels good to me because I've never had this opportunity at the senior level. My first tour was last year September and representing Jamaica means so much to me and my family,” she said. “Whenever I step on the court I represent to the best, like you've seen throughout this series against Barbados.”
Her initial senior Sunshine Girls tour took her to New Zealand last year, then onto England where Jamaica won the Vitality series. Now Thomas is creating her own vibe as she aspires returning to both countries on a professional contract.
“I've a few things that I need to work on in order to be a good centre court player or the best player in Jamaica. But my aim is to reach ANZ and that's my dream. I work hard every day at training. Even if I'm not feeling it, I always put my best foot forward, no matter what,” she expressed.
“They have the highest level of skills in the ANZ, or the Super League in England, so that's why I am trying to fix my skills, work on the things I need to work on, watch a lot of videos and see how their players move the ball around, get down the court, what are they doing differently from the Jamaicans, and try to incorporate that into my training, my little training that I have, because I do other things on the side. I not only come to the national training and try to get work done,” Thomas pointed out.
“I was called to the England Super League but things didn't work out. I'm sure I'll get another opportunity to go there, but everything takes time, so I'm just sitting, waiting patiently, working hard on what I need to fix and hoping someone out there will see me.