Football becomes family affair

People have said prayer changes things.

For Florida A&M wide receiver Ronnie Thomas, prayer as well as his and his family’s belief in the Bible’s Philippians 4:13- “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”-has changed everything.

In his first season with the Rattlers, Thomas, a junior from Quincy, has leaned on the support of his deeply pious family and friends in his re-adjustment to the Florida panhandle.

After transferring to FAMU from Clemson University following the 2002 season, Thomas found solace in looking into the stands to see at least 10 members of his family supporting him.

“Being that the family is the biggest part of his heart, he needs the support (of his family),” said Thomas’s uncle William Brinson.

Even for “real” road games such as trips to Illinois, New Orleans and Philadelphia, members of the Thomas family have been there to support him.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that almost every member of Thomas’ family has either grown up a fan of FAMU, is an alumnus of the university or is a season ticket holder.

Thomas’ girlfriend Tamara Holmes, whom he has known since childhood, has always supported FAMU and has attended every game this season even though she attends Florida State University.

Regardless of whether her boyfriend played for the Rattlers, Holmes said she would support the University; however, she did say Thomas’s transfer helped her gain more school spirit.

Sharon Thomas, Ronnie’s mother, has used home football games as an opportunity for a family get-together for years but with her son playing for the Rattlers, games have an added amount of significance to her.

“It’s very rewarding to see him all decked out in orange and green,” said his mother. “It brings out the Rattler pride to see him out there, not only for me but the whole family.”

Though he is proud of his nephew’s accomplishments on the football field, Brinson said he is proudest of Thomas’s activity in the community and his church.

“Family is ordained from the beginning by God, and with that everything else falls under that umbrella,” said Brinson, a pastor from Havana.

“My family and my friends are very supportive,” Thomas said. “Its very encouraging and motivating to see your family and friends in the stands.”

Although she and the rest of his family have been supportive of Ronnie’s exploits on the football field, Sharon has kept her distance from her son before games allowing him to focus on the task at hand.

Even for the Rattlers “four away games”-Sharon considers the Atlanta, Florida and Orange Blossom classics home games-Thomas’ family does not badger him for tickets or interrupt his usual routine. For most away games, Ronnie is unable to acquire one of his teammates’ two allotted tickets for the game, forcing members of his family to purchase tickets.

“It’s definitely a business trip for me, I’m focused from the time I get on the bus,” Thomas said.

Whereas games away from the confines of Bragg Memorial Stadium are strictly business for Thomas, he said his family treats the trips as a combination of business and pleasure.

“What we want to do is show as much support as possible for not only Ronnie but all the Rattlers,” Sharon said.

However, win or lose, one thing remains the same in Thomas’s post-game routine; he thanks his family for coming.

Contact Will Brown at