When I started NAIA Hoops Report I wasn’t sure what I all wanted to do, or where I thought the site could grow to. I was hoping it would be a hit, but also was hesitant, because I knew nothing about blogging, and I didn’t know what kind of interest I could gain. In hopes to grow the site, I decided I would start the NAIA Player Spotlight series. I thought it would be a fun way to help garner attention to some of the great student-athletes that make up NAIA basketball. Stories like Thomas Bullock’s journey, are what make this series so great.
At the age of 3, Thomas was introduced to BMX racing by his father. He was so good, that at age 5, he was already competing at his first national race. He ended up racing competitively for 15 years, and was ranked nationally for 6 of those years. He won 3 straight Utah State Championships, twice finished 18th in the nation, and then in 2011 he finished 8th. BMX racing was fun for Thomas, but the special bond between him and his dad, that racing brought to them was the reason he was so passionate about it. Then his world turned upside down when his father passed away. Thomas ended up losing his passion for BMX, and eventually stepped away from the sport.
Thomas always enjoyed basketball. It was a side hobby of his while he was tearing up BMX dirt tracks. When he got out of racing, and picked up a basketball, he found his passion for the game to keep growing stronger and stronger each time he worked out. That new passion would lead him to NAIA, Northern New Mexico College. He would have to red shirt due to the fact he had been taking classes back home in Salt Lake City before attending. Thomas would follow that up with a very successful freshman year. However, he was home sick, and after the season he was hoping he could find an NAIA program close to home. He was unsuccessful, and instead he went back home and spent the year working.
During his year off, his passion to play again grew immensely. He put in countless hours in the gym, and finally got a scholarship to play his sophomore year at Colorado Northwestern Junior College. From there, Coach Brandt Danals and Coach Kyle Hoffman at Silver Lake came calling. It was a ways from home, but he felt that they were the best fit for him. He appreciated them coming to him with open arms, and showing him his worth to the program. Thomas said that last year was the best experience he has had as a college basketball player. The uniqueness of Silver Lake allows them to be a NAIA/USCAA dual member, and thus Thomas was named USCAA Player of the Week four times last season. He credits his coaches, teammates, classmates, and professors for making Silver Lake and the Manitowoc Community feel like home and he is excited for his senior year as a Laker.
After next season is over, Thomas is hoping he gets a chance to play professionally. Either way he wants to find ways he can give back and work with the youth. Thomas is thankful for the NAIA as an avenue to play for those kids who have altered paths. He thinks NAIA hoops is great for any kid to play, but his own personal journey is one that he says wouldn’t be possible without NAIA basketball.