Linebacker Thomas Hall is a proud Bison who acknowledges that he has a lot to be thankful for. He was recently nominated for the 2009 Canada West Football Russ Jackson Outstanding Student-Athlete award. The award recognizes a player who demonstrates exceptional football skills, academic achievement and community involvement.
In his second year on the field, Hall demonstrated his athletic skill by accomplishing 38.5 tackles this season, tying for 13th in the Canada West conference. This was his first full season starting as a linebacker, and at the beginning of November he was selected as the Canada West defense football athlete of the week. The athlete of the week selection came after the Bisons’ home game against the Simon Fraser Clan when Hall accomplished a 59 yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter which helped lead his team to victory on Oct. 31. Hall finished the game with 4.5 total tackles.
Reflecting on his passion for football, Hall finds the team’s camaraderie most rewarding: “The incredible amount of time we spend together forces us to form very strong relationships that will last for the rest of our lives. Each week we get to go out and have fun as a group of friends and put into action all of the things we practiced during the week.”
Academically, Hall is in his third year in the faculty of kinesiology and recreation management. Last year, he earned CIS Academic All-Canadian status for his academic success. This is no easy feat for someone as busy as Hall. To stay organized he makes mental checklists of tasks that need to be done and sets reminders in his phone. “I know that even an hour of hard work sending emails, watching game film, studying class notes or catching up with friends can make a huge difference.”
Hall is also very community minded as he is co-chair of the Bisons Against Bullying program, honourary chair of Cancer Care Manitoba’s Challenge for Life campaign and has been the University of Manitoba Athletes Council’s football representative for the last two years. These accomplishments have earned Hall recognition as the Male Student-Athlete Leadership and Community Development award recipient in the 2008-09 school year.
Hall reveals his helpful strategy to balance all of these remarkable commitments. “I slowly started to add things to my schedule. As each new activity becomes part of my routine I find it easier to add something else.” It also helps that Hall enjoys all of the activities that he participates in and feels rewarded when he has the opportunity to meet new people, especially when he can help them achieve something. “I think that the university provides us with so many advantages, and it is our duty as athletes to be positive ambassadors for the image of the U of M and reach out into the community as role models.”
In regards to his Russ Jackson nomination, Hall is thankful for the support his teammates and coaches have shown by helping out at the various community events that have contributed to his nomination. He also recognizes the importance of his family in getting him where he is today: “Truly, the nomination is a tribute to my parents and my three siblings. We are an incredibly close family and the values taught to us by my parents exemplify everything that this award stands for. Academic achievement and community service are two things that I learned the importance of at a young age and have continued to hold with me.”
Hall also stresses that his nomination reflects the phenomenal Bison coaching staff. Although this season ended abruptly, Hall feels particularly bad for the fifth year players, but remains optimistic about next year. “I was certainly disappointed about the season, however, I felt personally grateful that I still have several years of eligibility left to again help the Bisons back into the playoffs, and ideally to another Vanier Cup victory in the coming seasons.”