Hello, My Name Is: Thomas Bates
After suffering a season-ending knee injury last year, Bates has bounced back to full strength this year for Newman Catholic
WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Last September, Newman Catholic standout running back was dealt perhaps the worst hand you can deal a high school athlete; a torn ACL, ending his season.
A dynamic piece to the Newman offense, missing Bates was tough on the entire Cardinals team.
“Obviously it was tough knowing, that one of the best running backs, if not the best running back in the state isn’t going to be playing with you the rest of the season,” said Newman center Owen Sullivan. “But you have an end goal you have to reach. With him, it would’ve been easier, but now we had to do it for him.”
Even without Bates, the Cardinals continued rolling through their season, reaching that ultimate goal of a state title. While he wasn’t on the field, Bates still played a very active role.
“The mindset was still to attend everything, and try to be as big a part of the team as if I was on the field,” said Bates. “I’d still show up to every practice, try my best to impact the team while I can’t play.”
Despite embracing his new role on the team, Bates desperately wanted to get back on the field to experience a title run in the pads. With that in mind, he worked hard in the offseason to be ready for 2022.
“It was a grind,” said Bates. “It was tough, hard work, but I know the end goal would definitely be worth it.”
Through his offseason of work, Bates made it back in time for camp and Newman’s first game of the 2022 season. Even to his teammates, he looked like the same old Thomas, perhaps even better.
“Knowing Thomas, right when he gets back in the game, he gets in the mode, he knows what he’s doing,” said quarterback Connor Krach. “He did a great job with physical therapy and rehab. He’s better than ever I think.”
Bates has shown out in his return to the field. He has over 1,342 yards of total offense and 25 touchdowns, not to mention being a key piece on defense. However, the stats weren’t as exciting as the opportunity to once again get back to that playoff atmosphere.
“Oh my gosh, I couldn’t sit still at school. All I could think about was playing on the turf, Friday night lights, and round one of the playoffs,” said Bates. “We got out there and it was a beautiful night out there and it was awesome.”
The Cardinals find themselves just one more win away from returning to a state title game for Bates to play himself. As he looks back on his journey back to the field, he knows not to take any game for granted.
”I kinda got a chip on the shoulder from last year. I have stuff to prove,” said Bates. “It’s exciting. It gives me chills almost every time I walk out on that field.”
Newman plays their level three playoff game Friday night against Siren.
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