Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Soccer was never a given for Nebraska junior Molly Thomas. With years devoted to dance as a child, playing the sport - any sport, really - was truly an afterthought.
That all changed when the two-time All-Big 12 selection was eventually approached by a neighbor to play on the local club team.
"My mom had me in dance when I was little, until about fifth grade," Thomas said. "She eventually made me stop because I never smiled, had an attitude and just knew dancing wasn't for me. We moved to a new neighborhood and our neighbor said the club team needed someone, so I decided to play. I didn't know I had any soccer talent, but we went from there,"
For someone who thought she had little soccer talent at an early age, Thomas has proven those doubts wrong. Entering the 2010 season she was set to maintain her spot among the top players in the Midwest region.
In two years with the Huskers, Thomas has started 38 of 40 matches and scored 13 goals. After a five-goal, one-assist All-Big 12 freshman campaign, Thomas became a more versatile offensive threat by increasing her assists total last year. She is one of only seven Huskers in school history to earn All-Big 12 honors in each of her first two seasons.
Thomas established herself as one of the best players in the league and earned second-team All-Big 12 honors in 2009. As a sophomore she was a mainstay in the NU lineup and started all 20 games, scoring eight goals and adding seven assists to rank second on the team in both categories. She was sixth in the Big 12 with 1.10 points per game. Her offensive output of 23 points more than doubled her 2008 total (11) and made Nebraska one of the nation's top offensive teams.
In her freshman season, Thomas proved she was ready to play, earning 18 starts.
"I was the only freshman coming in, so it was kind of difficult," Thomas said. "The coaches have been great and helped me a lot. It has definitely shown on the field, everyone wants you to get better. This is a great environment for that."
In April 2010, she trained with the U.S. Under-23 Women's National Team in Corvallis, Ore. In the summer of 2009, she was invited to training camp with the Under-20 Women's National Team in Boulder, Colo. Those two experiences and being around different players gave her a new perspective to the game.
"I learned a lot to bring back to Nebraska and practice to make my team better," Thomas said. "It was awesome competing with such great players from all over the country. It was fun to experience how they played soccer and learn things from them. I came back ready to show everyone here what I learned."
With her leadership and example, Thomas knows that the team's goal of making the NCAA tournament is anything but a lofty expectation Instead, it is an objective which looks to be within reach following the Huskers' 7-2 non-conference season. Her dedication to hard work, athleticism and knack for speed and aggressiveness have led her to relish being one of the leaders on this year's team.
"I'm a junior now and have been here two years," Thomas said. "I am now more of leader because I know everyone looks up to me as an example. In practice I know the freshmen look at what I am doing and look up to me."