Kurt Thomas was named head coach of the track & field program in December 2010, after serving as the interim head coach for the 2010 season. He is in his seventh year overall with the Blazers after serving as an assistant track & field coach from 2008-09. He works primarily with the UAB sprinters and hurdlers.
Thomas coached multiple student-athletes to school records, highlights and awards during the 2013 season. Under his leadership, graduate student Eli Kirk earned 26 points at the Conference USA Indoor Championship and was named high point scorer of the meet for her efforts. She claimed the 3000m run championship and broke both school and meet records for the event, contested Feb. 23-24, with a time of 9:23.36. She also finished second in the mile run with a time of 4:43.73, nearly two seconds under the previous meet record.
Kirk, along with Rhiannon Johns and the 4x100-meter relay team of Kyana White, Angel Watson, Shakima Knox and Alexis Bates all qualified for the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. The 400-meter relay team punched its ticket to Eugene with a time of 44.81, as did Kirk, who broke a 5,000-meter mark she held earlier in the season. They, along with Johns, who qualified for the 10,000-meter run with a time of 33:36.72, represented UAB at the national championship. Kirk finished 19th of 24 runners in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 16:25.62, while Johns finished 12th at the NCAA Championships.
Following their success, the six Blazers earned the USTFCCCA All-American distinction. Johns was named second-team All-American, Kirk earned honorable mention honors, while the four members of the 4x100-meter relay team were also tabbed with honorable mention honors. Johns also earned a spot on the Capital One Academic All-District Team and the Conference USA All-Academic Track and Field Team.
Thomas enjoyed success in his first year as head coach throughout the 2011 season as several student-athletes posted personal records, two school records were shattered and two athletes competed in the NCAA East Preliminaries. Rhiannon Johns qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 5,000 meters for her first collegiate NCAA final.
In addition, Johns also captured her second-straight Conference USA 10,000-meter title, earning first-team all-conference honors. Akira McSwain also earned all-conference accolades as she finished third in the heptathlon at the C-USA Outdoor Championships.
During his season as the interim head coach, UAB had five athletes qualify for the preliminary round of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and Nora Mehl provisionally qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in two events.
At the league indoor championships, Mehl became a Conference USA champion for the second time after taking the pentathlon title. Mehl and Akira McSwain received all-conference honors. At the C-USA Outdoor Championships, Rhiannon Johns won the 10,000-meter to become a C-USA champion and Lytrice Thomas and Bianca Le'Blanc both received all-conference accolades.
Thomas spent his first two years at UAB as an assistant track and field coach to former head coach Ray Stanfield. During those years Thomas primarily coached the jumpers, multi-event athletes, throwers and middle distance runners, along with the sprinters and hurdlers.
During the 2008 season, Thomas coached Erica Russ to a first-place finish in the 100m hurdles at the C-USA Outdoor Championships, running 13.41 and setting her own personal record. J.J. Scruggs was also crowned C-USA champion in the 400m hurdles, giving the Blazers conference champions in both outdoor hurdle events under Thomas' guidance. Also at the C-USA Championships, senior Tara Colvin was the runner-up in the 400m, with a time of 53.93.
To add to the records in 2008, Thomas' athletes, Tara Colvin, J.J. Scruggs and Alina Varpiotaite, teamed up with middle distance senior Genoah Collins to shatter the 4x400m relay school record at the Texas Relays. The foursome ran a regional-qualifying time of 3:38.54 to finish runner-up to USC in Austin, Texas.
During the 2007 season, Thomas coached three school record holders, three freshman record holders and 12 regional qualifiers. He guided fifth-year senior Penny Shields in breaking seven-time All-American Vonetta Flowers' school record in the triple jump, with a jump of 41 - 6 1/2. Freshman Samantha Hamilton set the frosh record under Thomas' coaching eye, jumping 41- 4. J.J. Scruggs also set a freshman record in the 400m hurdles, running 58.95 over the one-lap barriers.
Prior to coming to UAB, Thomas spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Mississippi State. His primary responsibilities included coaching hurdlers, jumpers and women's sprinters. While there, he coached several relay teams and individuals to first-place finishes. He also helped his athletes break four Mississippi State Outdoor Track and Field records, and set 33 personal-best marks.
Before his stint at Mississippi State, Thomas was a student assistant at the University of Tennessee. During his three years in Knoxville, Thomas assisted with the men's program and was a member of two Southeastern Conference championship teams and two NCAA national championship squads.
Thomas also assisted with the UT Championship Track and Field Camps and coached the Knoxville Track Club. He graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in history.
Thomas has three USATF Level II certifications in sprints, hurdles, relays, combined events and jumps. He is a native of Hobbs, N.M., where he graduated from Hobbs High School as an all-state sprinter. Thomas and his wife Jill have two sons, Toliver Knox and Lucas David, and a dog named Rosie.