He worked his way from manager to student-athlete

Editor's note: This story was written as a part of the Observer's Explorer Post program, which gives high school students the chance to learn about journalism.

Will Thoni may not be the most skilled athlete on the basketball court. Nor is he the kind of player who has colleges falling over themselves offering him athletic scholarships.

Thoni has attended Davidson College for the past four years and majored in sociology. Thoni’s father was a Division III basketball coach.

His father influenced him to become the basketball player he is today. Will sees the game better today.

“My dad helped me a ton and gave me a good feel for the game. Also what I should expect in the future” said Thoni.

According to Will’s father, Joe Thoni, “Will came to a lot of practices and always hung out with the players.” He had basketball in his “blood” and it was a passion for him.

Thoni chose to attend Davidson College because it was a Division I school and he could possibly work his way up from manager to student-athlete.

According to Joey Beeler, the school’s sports information director, Thoni earned a spot on the team not because he was the best athlete, but because he was a leader on and off the court.

Thoni was always the first one at practice and the last one to leave. He is very vocal and leads by example.

“Everybody knows he isn’t the best athlete, but his work ethic is unbelievable, and everyone respects him for that,” said Davidson athletic trainer Chris Hagemann.

Thoni worked hard for three straight years and his leadership and work ethic earned him a spot on Davidson’s basketball roster.

Beeler said it was hard to tell if Thoni was a manger or a player just because he was so mature.

Thoni played in a total of 10 games at Davidson, averaging 1.7 minutes per game, 0.1 points per game, 0.1 assists a game, and 0.2 rebounds per game. For Will, it wasn’t about the stats; it was about being a leader.

In 10 years, Thoni would like to see himself on the bench again, but this time as an assistant basketball coach. He would take his experiences he has had and help future student athletes prosper and succeed.

Joe Thoni thinks Will can make it as a coach and will support whatever he goes on to do. “He has a very lively personality and is pretty smart” says Joe.

Will has advice for future student athletes: “Be true to yourself. Be committed to everything. You need to work hard, and take absolutely nothing for granted. Also be willing to ask for help, because no one has ever become good on their own”