Kemmesha Thomas’ Logan High School legacy

Track state champion defies disability, leaves lasting legacy on peers

Living life on the sidelines is not Kemmesha Thomas’ style.

As a senior at Logan High School, Thomas’ accolades and accomplishments over the past three-plus years are hard to fathom. For starters, Thomas is a two-time Wisconsin Division 1 state track champion in the 4X100 and 4X200 relays, and is co-captain of the varsity basketball and cross country teams. She also plays trumpet in the band and is in a handful of academic clubs.

Thomas’ competitive drive even brought her to the varsity football field.

“At first they asked me if I was going to be the manager,” Kemmesha said. “I said no, I am going to try and be the running back.”

The only reason her football season ended was a torn ACL, suffered in August 2014. Normally this injury takes a full 12 months to rehab. Thomas was back at track practice in nine months, in time to qualify and compete in the Wisconsin State Championships.

“She has been a driving force in the rest of my athletes excelling because they might come in there ready to complain about something, and then here is a kid who has no excuses,” 30-year Logan High School girls track and field head coach Tom Kammer said. “She never uses an excuse.”

Born without the lower half of her left arm, Thomas is different than other athletes.
She is not different because of what physically is missing on this planet, but rather due to an attitude that is out of this galaxy.

“Complaining does not really change anything because it already happened. It is over with,” said Thomas.  “I just tried to work hard because I am pretty sure no one wants a slacker on their team. That is just my motto: work hard and be nice.”

“She could probably go down as one of the top students I have ever worked with at Logan,” said Julie Slaats-Rowe, who has spent 25 years as a guidance counselor at Logan High School.  “I will probably be asking her someday for an autograph.”

“There are just some people special like her that go above and beyond and do not view anything as a disability,” Logan head football coach Casey Knoble said. “People like Kemmesha view everything as an opportunity, and that is why she is so amazing.”

“I have never heard a negative word come out of her mouth about anything,” Logan Activities Director Steve Hole said. “She is one of those people that is very easy to warm up to. She is going to be a huge success.”

Recently, the YWCA awarded Kemmesha with its 2015 Women of Tomorrow Award. So what is next for Thomas? The National Honor Society student says she just wants to be at a college this fall where she can be happy. If collegiate running is an option, “Mesh”, is always up for the challenge.

“I think sometimes we work to much for medals and ribbons when really the reason for doing something is because you want to excel at it,” Kammer said.  “That is really how we become happy: Just perform better as a person and not worry about ‘What am I getting for it?'”

For her, the reward is, “I get to do it.”

“I just wanted to thank everyone for helping me and pushing be forward and keeping me on the straight and narrow because there are a lot of roads you can travel down in high school.” Thomas said. “They helped me stay on the right one.”