Derron Thomas named head football coach & athletic director for West St. John
Published 4:27 pm Friday, June 2, 2023
EDGARD — Edgard native Derron Thomas has returned home to lead Ram Nation as West St. John’s new head football coach and athletic director. Seeking support from the surrounding community, Thomas aims to reinstate a winning culture and ensure every athletic program and auxiliary group is rolling in the right direction.
Thomas started his high school years as a multi-sport athlete at West St. John. After his family moved across the river, he was brought over to East St. John High School so he could attend school with his younger sister. He still remembers the heartbreak that surrounded that move, because even though he became part of East St. John’s Class of 2004, he was always a Ram at heart.
Thomas went on to become a four-year letterman and football team captain at the University of Miami. Prior to coaching at East St. John for the past five years, he spent the better part of a decade working in upper management for Footlocker. He’s now married and expecting his first child.
“I have been able to build management skills as far as leading and guiding people, becoming business-oriented, and finding ways to raise money, all things that come along with the athletic director title,” Thomas said. “My experiences have prepared me, along with going to college, playing ball, and having resources such as a mentor support system on the next level. To come full circle, return home, and be able to lead this program is just a dream come true.”
Thomas sees a lot of potential within West St. John’s football team. While recent seasons have been rocky, Thomas looks at the program and sees a resilient group of kids who have overcome every challenge life has thrown their way over the past three years.
“We finished spring and they competed and did a really good job, and that’s a credit to the coaches who are here currently. It shows that we have people who are willing to help invest into these kids,” he said.
One of the athletes who immediately caught his attention is rising senior Kylin Smith.
“He will be the senior leader and enforcer to help build the culture we want to install back into the program. He comes from a great family and a great support system. Those are the type of kids do you want to build your program around because those types of kids have a positive energy that spreads to everybody,” Thomas said.
Thomas also wants to invest into the children on the academic front by promoting West St. John’s mission to secure a 100% graduation rate and make sure every student is college or career ready.
“His mission is to develop student athletes, which means they are scholars first and athletes second,” West St. John Principal Rayven Calloway said.
That was one of the factors that swayed the selection committee through a lengthy interview process for the athletic director and head football position. According to Calloway, the selection committee believed in Thomas’ vision to develop a competitive, winning culture that encompasses discipline, team, and leadership skills.
She looks forward to seeing Thomas equip scholars with life and social skills while monitoring academics daily and giving them a pathway to universities or careers of their choice.
“Building productive and caring citizens of this community is his goal, and as the leader of this school, my team and I look forward to working with him to push his mission,” Calloway said.
While Thomas is a natural born leader, he said it will take involvement from all stakeholders to see positive change. All are invited to a meet and greet with Coach Thomas at 6 p.m. Monday, May 5 inside the Rams gymnasium. All present and prospective student athletes are encouraged to attend along with their parents.
“We are looking for all sports and auxiliary groups – softball, volleyball, track and field, majorettes. We’re looking for kids interested in fishing and powerlifting. We want you to participate and bring back that culture and that swag that West St. John has had over the years,” Thomas said. “It’s going to take administration, counselors, teachers, staff, custodians. I want to get all of us together because at the end of the day it’s about the kids. I want the whole community of Edgard, the whole West Bank of St. John Parish, to know that I’m here to fight with you. I can’t do it by myself. I don’t want to do it by myself. I want to do it with the people from here.”