Hometown: Cold Spring, NY
Game Face On
After a vicarious peek at Davidson through a hometown basketball buddy who was Coach Bob McKillop's nephew, Billy Thom knew Davidson was right for him following his campus tour: clear-eyed, straightforward. "The most honest college tour I took was at Davidson. It was, 'This is what we are. If it's for you, come on down.'" So he did. Now he's team manager for Wildcat men's basketball.
Hoops and Books
"Everything is done the right way and being able to value academics is part of that way." And that's not just PR bluster; Thom has been part of the stories that back it up. "After the SoCon Tournament in Charleston, we didn't get back to the hotel until 12:45 a.m., and then we had to pack. When the bus pulled onto campus the next morning the last thing Coach said to us was, 'Be in class.'"
Love of the Game
Already a coach himself with the Catholic Youth Organization's winter league and some summer leagues back home, Thom takes strong cues from McKillop and the assistant coaches' style of give-and-take—not to say good cop-bad cop. "He cares for every guy on the team so much, it's never malicious or unfair. He's just trying to get you to reach your full potential."
At season's end, Thom's pendulum swings back toward the books-not too far: "Too much time in the library is unhealthy"—and extracurricular activities. Notably for him, there's a much more open feeling around spiritual life than he first expected at this small college in the South. "The way President Ross is trying to bring in a greater mix of diversity, it's making it easier to have good dialogue between different faiths and traditions.... I try to make mass every week."
Thom looks at his own education to date—teachers, coaches and mentors—and already knows he wants to give back. "I'd like to be a Division I coach at a place where basketball is valued, and where it has been historically important in the fabric of the college."