WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
Senior Airman Robert “Scott” Thomas, a *traditional reservist with the 718th Intelligence Squadron, swore into the Air Force in October 2016, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather who both served in the Army. In his civilian career, Thomas is a high school physics teacher at Riverbend High School located in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He also coaches varsity golf and varsity softball for the school.
Prior to departing for basic military training, Thomas was informed by the school principal that they were unable to find a replacement physics teacher for the extended time he was going to be gone. While he was preparing physically and mentally for basic military training, Thomas decided to create six months of physics lessons on video so his students wouldn’t be left behind.
After completing basic training, Thomas had to complete more training for his Air Force job through technical school. While there, he was able to communicate with his students and players, assisting them in any way possible. He would Skype into practice sessions with the softball team and answer physics questions via e-mail.
Hannah Marsteller, one of the team captains, said it wasn’t the same without their coach present.
“We definitely needed a lot more leadership. I hate to say this, but Coach Thomas is kind of the core of our team. He kind of gets everyone fired up and motivated.”
In an effort to miss as little school time as possible while still finishing technical school, Thomas was able to pass his course test early thus was allowed to miss the last block of training. The original return date would have made Thomas miss the first four games of the softball season. He ended up graduating technical school 2.5 weeks ahead of schedule. He was able to surprise his team at their first official game.
After returning to school, Thomas went on to lead the Riverbend softball team to a record of 19-2, winning the Commonwealth District Championship and winning the first softball Regional Playoff game in school history. Due to their great season, Thomas was awarded District Coach of the Year.
Sydney Romine, a senior captain, had this to say when she found out about her coach winning the award.
“I was not really surprised. He definitely deserved it and I’m sure all of the girls could vouch along with me, that he was the best coach in the district.”
After getting settled into the routine of being a traditional reservist, Thomas started the next school year and began golf season. The golf team finished the regular season undefeated and won the Commonwealth District Championship. At the end of the season, Thomas was selected as the Free Lance Star All-Area Coach of the Year.
*According to the Air Force Reserve Command fact sheet on the definition of a traditional reservist, or TR, TRs serve in the Unit Program, in which they are required to report to duty with their parent Air Force Reserve Command unit, typically a wing, group or squadron, at least one weekend a month and an additional two weeks a year.