Hard work paid off handsomely for Gabbie Thomas.
The 2013 Port Allen High School graduate made her mark in basketball, track and softball.
But it was her performance in volleyball that brought the biggest rewards.
Thomas recently signed a two-year scholarship with Independence Community College in Independence, Kan., a city of 9,500, just north of Tulsa, Okla.
“It’s a small university, but it offers much more one-on-one between the professors and students,” she said.
The college is affiliated with the National Junior College Athletic Association and is a member of the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference.
The Lady Pirates hope Thomas will be among the players who will help them improve from the 8-30 showing in 2012.
“I love sports, but what I look forward to most is how I’ll change as a person and to see how I’ll mature there,” she said.
Thomas lettered four years and broke several records at PAHS.
“We’re all very proud of Gabbie,” Port Allen coach Wayne Conaway said. “She worked very hard, and we’ll certainly miss her.”
She believes she will benefit from the experience she gained under coaches Wayne Conaway and Demetrius Franklin, as well as what she picked up from her teammates.
“I learned a lot from every single player,” Thomas said. “I’m going to miss all of them and my coaches. They all helped me grow as a person.”
Thomas will also miss life in her hometown.
“I’ll definitely miss my family and friends,” she said. “It’s going to be a big change for me because there aren’t that many people there, and it will be very different for me.
“It’s a big step for me, but I look forward to it,” Thomas said. “I have to learn to be on my own.”
Thomas, who lettered in four sports at PAHS, said she also received an offer from Middlesex Community College in Middletown, Conn.
She said she would not rule out the possibility of playing in other sports down the line.
“If it goes well in volleyball and I can keep my grades up, I may do it,” Thomas said. “But for right now, I’m concentrating on volleyball and my studies.”
Thomas plans to major in Nursing. She plans to transfer to Clark University in Atlanta once she finishes her two years at Independence.
She is the daughter of Zeolotes Thomas of Port Allen.