Posted 7/24 Updated 8/4/23
February 2021, Alyssa Thomas, Forward for the Connecticut Suns, tore her Achilles while playing in the Czech Republic during the WNBA off-season. For most athletes, an injury like that would sideline them for an entire season, but Thomas is not like most athletes.
Who is Alyssa Thomas?
Alyssa Thomas was a force to be reckoned with coming out of high school, being named the Player of the Year in her home State of Pennsylvania as a senior at Central Dauphin High School. Where she ended her career as the school’s all-time leading scorer. Upon graduating, she attended the University of Maryland, where she made an immediate impact, being named ACC Rookie of the Year as a freshman. She continued to dominate her sophomore season, adding ACC Player of the Year and a first-team all-American selection to her resume. By the time she was a senior, she had helped lead the Terrapins to the Sweet Sixteen Elite Eight and Final Four.
Adapt and Overcome
Thomas was selected 4th in the 2014 WNBA draft to the New York Liberty. In her nine-year WNBA career, she has made her mark on the defensive end of the court, becoming a four-time All-star while being named to three all-defensive second teams. Although she has had much success on the court, she has had to battle with some serious injuries, including a dislocated shoulder and two torn Labra. Because of this, she had to adapt her shooting form to make up for her lack of mobility. Her new and improved shooting form didn’t slow her down. In 2019, she became the first player in WNBA history to have a triple-double in a championship game.
“She’s probably the toughest player I’ve ever coached, but she’s the most consistent player in terms of effort that I’ve ever been around,” Sun’s coach and general manager, Curt Miller, told reporters after game 3 of the 2019 WNBA Championship against the Washington Mystics.
The Triple-Double Queen
That toughness was on full display after she tore her Achilles before the start of the 2021 season. Just nine months later, she was back playing for the Suns. In 2023, in her first full season back from the Achilles injury, she averaged 15.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 8.1 assists. This season she made history by becoming the WNBA’s triple-double leader with seven career triple-doubles.
On August 1st, Thomas made history again, becoming the first player in WNBA history to record a 20-point, 20-rebound, 10-assist triple-double against the Minnesota Lynx. Like a true superstar, she gave all the credit to her teammates.
Before my injury, I think I was playing really good basketball, and unfortunately, I had that injury,” Thomas said. “And I worked really hard to get back to where I wanted to be. A lot of credit goes to my teammates. I say this every time that without them making the shots, I really can’t get triple-doubles,” she told ESPN.
Check out the history-making game below
Thomas had an incredible season, and that got her nominated for the “Comeback Player of the Year” award at this year’s ESPYs. She didn’t take home the prize, but her journey of adapting and growing throughout her career is super inspiring. Battling back from injury can be tough. But in every stage of her career, she has used it at motivation, from re-learning how to shoot after her shoulder injuries to returning to the court faster than anyone expected after tearing her Achilles. Thomas’ heart and determination show us that if we hustle hard and keep an open mind, we can achieve anything we set our minds to. Life throws challenges at us, but just like Thomas, we can bounce back and crush it. So let’s stay dedicated, work our butts off, and who knows what awesome stuff we’ll accomplish!