Reis Thomas ’23, a standout student and athlete at Wabash College was selected as a finalist for the 2023 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar of the Year by Diverse Issues in High Education magazine.
Thomas was the third runner-up for men’s scholar-of-the-year accolades from nearly 1,000 nominations. He was joined by tennis player Alvaro Alonso-Sanchez ’24 as a semifinalist for the honor. Wabash was one of two institutions across all NCAA divisions to have two semifinalists for the award, joining the University of Nebraska.
“As a student-athlete, much of the work is done behind the scenes,” said Thomas. “To be recognized on such a large scale is extremely gratifying and I’m thankful that among so many nominees I was chosen as a finalist. It is an honor to be linked to Arthur Ashe, who was extremely skilled in scholarship and athletics, and impacted so many people's lives through his social justice efforts and advocating for AIDS research and education. A humanitarian and athlete of that caliber is one who should be celebrated. To be considered as someone who shares similar qualities in those areas is a gift in and of itself.”
A native of Brownsburg, Indiana, Thomas is a four-year member of the Wabash track and field teams and has helped the program win five North Coast Athletic Conference championships to date. During his collegiate career he was a member of the football and basketball teams as well, helping the 2022 basketball team win the NCAC regular season and postseason tournament titles en route to the NCAA Division III finals.
“Reis comes from wonderful family with high expectations for both academic and athletic achievements,” said Clyde Morgan, Director of Track & Field and Cross Country. “He is a man of strong moral character who sets the standard for excellence within our program. To say we are proud of him is a tremendous understatement.”
In track and field, he was the 2022 NCAC outdoor champion in the discus, topping the field by more than three feet. He has a career best mark of 49.45m in the discus, and a mark of 14.13m in the shot put (indoors).
Thomas, a Spanish major, is regularly involved with the campus and surrounding community through outreach efforts with his three varsity athletic teams, as well as the Malcolm X Institute for Black Studies. In addition to serving on the social media committee, he has been involved in the MXI’s regular efforts to engage, not only with current students, but with the greater community, on events and programming that support the MXI’s mission of mentoring and service.
He was the 2021 recipient of the Fertig Prize for Writing at Wabash College, given annually to three members of the freshman class. The prize honors distinguished pieces of expository or creative writing nominated by the members of the faculty and judged by the English Department. A member of the Dean’s List in all four years at Wabash, Thomas has been an all-academic selection by the NCAC and the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Alonso-Sanchez, a native of Alamda De La Sagra, Spain, is a two-year member of the Wabash tennis team. He is 4-11 in singles play and 5-8 in doubles action this season. In 2022, Alonso-Sanchez posted a 13-11 record in singles play, mostly at No. 2, and those 13 singles victories were the most on the team. He won his lone match at No. 1 singles and went 10-14 in doubles action. He was an honorable mention all-NCAC selection in 2022.
He is engaged with the campus and surrounding community through the Wabash Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the tennis team. Alonso-Sanchez has spent time working with local churches during furniture drives and volunteered his time teaching tennis to local youth. Further, he has participated in a community dog-walking program.
“I am extremely grateful to be considered for the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar of the Year award alongside so many talented student-athletes,” said Alonso-Sanchez. “I started playing tennis when I was five or six years old, and I have not stopped practicing and familiarizing myself with this fantastic sport. I am certainly familiar with the great legacy of Arthur Ashe, not only as a tennis player, but also as an advocate for social justice and equality. To be linked to such a great sportsman and humanitarian is a tremendous personal honor for me.”
Alonso-Sanchez, a computer science major, was named a scholar athlete by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association and is a member of the Wabash Computer Science Club.
“Alvaro had led by example each day since he arrived on campus,” said Daniel Bickett, Head Tennis Coach. "Whether it’s on the court, in the classroom, or through his work in the community, he has demonstrated through his actions to all the players on our team what it means to go about their lives in a consistent and professional manner. Alvaro is a shining example of what it means to be a scholar-athlete.”
Since 1992, Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars have demonstrated stellar athletic ability and academic performance (3.5 cumulative GPA or higher), in addition to a commitment to community service and student leadership. The award is inspired by tennis legend Arthur Ashe Jr.'s dedication to education as well as his love for the game of tennis.