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Brenda Cliette Thomas

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Unless I am understanding it wrong, she appears to meet the criteria for a college athlete.


Brenda Cliette Thomas
Personal information
National teamUnited States
Born (1963-09-05) September 5, 1963 (age 58)
Macon, Georgia
Home townMacon, Georgia
EducationBachelor's Degree from Florida State University
OccupationFire Prevention Director and Chief
Years activeOver 25 years
EmployerMacon Bibb County Fire Department
SportTrack & Field, Basketball
College teamFlorida State University

Brenda Cliette Thomas (born September 5th, 1963), is a former Olympic athlete-turned-firefighter. Her love for athletics began while she was young. In high school Thomas played Basketball and ran track before going on to continue her athletic career in college. While Thomas won medals as an athlete, she made history as a female firefighter in Macon, Georgia. She worked hard for all of her achievements; from graduating, to sports, to firefighting.

Early life[edit]

Brenda Cliette Thomas was born on September 5th, 1963 in Macon, Georgia, USA [1]. Her father was absent in her life, and she grew up under the sole care of her mother. Her mother was an influential part of her life, and Thomas has discussed her relationship with her mother often. [2] Thomas grew up in her home town, quickly developing a love for athletics, particularly running and basketball. [3] By the time she had entered Northeast High School in Macon, GA, she had developed into a formidable track runner and basketball player. Thomas' high school gym coach saw how well she performed, and encouraged her to continue practicing into college. [3] She would go on to lead her high school basketball team, the Lady Raiders, to two state titles in basketball and two state titles in track and field. [4] With her success on the Lady Raiders, Thomas became the first woman to win the Macon Telegraph Athlete of the Year (Selby Buck) award. [5]

College & athletic achievements[edit]

Despite being heavily recruited by the University of Georgia, she attended college at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.[3] While still in her freshman year, Brenda Cliette Thomas made three time All American at the NCAA Championships. In 1983, she obtained Female athlete of the year at FSU. She earned gold medals in the World University Games. The Pan American Games, the Goodwill Games, and the U.S. Olympic Festival. [4] Her winning did not stop there. When she was a sophomore, she was a four-time All-American in the Sprints and led the Seminoles to victory in the NCAA Outdoor Championship. [4] However, Thomas almost did not get the chance to win all of her medals and achieve everything that she did.

Despite Thomas’ success on the field, it is a known fact that in the classroom her performance differed greatly from her athletic abilities. [6] She skipped basketball and focused on track instead of her studies her Sophomore year. As a result, in the fall of 1984, she was dismissed academically from the university and ruled ineligible. She said she was "terrified" to tell her mother about the dismissal.[6] When asked about the topic, Thomas says, "I had good intentions but I just lost focus," [6] She admitted her study habits were not the greatest. She got her grades back up by taking classes at Tallahassee Community College. According to Thomas, she has been truly grateful for her second chance at FSU ever since. When asked about her return to FSU, Thomas has said that the fact she was asked to come back "raises the hair on my arms,” [6]. Thomas has repeatedly discussed how grateful she is for the second chance she got at FSU, and has said, “They didn’t have to do that. I tell my kids and others, ‘Try to get it right the first time because not everyone gets a second chance.’ I was fortunate. And it meant so much."[6] As a high school Senior, she was coached by Marynell Meadors, and once again helped lead her team and proudly graduated.

Career & adult life[edit]

Not only has Brenda Cliette Thomas been inducted into the Macon Sports Hall of Fame, she is one of the eighteen directors. The Florida State Hall of Fame and Georgia Sports Hall of Fame have also inducted her. Brenda Cliette Thomas was also an alternate in the 1984 Summer Olympics.[3] She missed her family in Macon, so after graduation she sought employment for the Macon-Bibb Fire Department, with the encouragement of a friend. Thomas then went on to make history and lead a successful career. When asked about her choice in career, she states she chose to be a firefighter because she likes to help people, and gets that trait from her upbringing and her family. [3] She made one of the Women of Business in 2020, with the quote, "Lt. Brenda Cliette Thomas, the First African-American Female Fire Prevention Director and first female to hold the rank of Chief on the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department." [7] In 2016, Thomas became the department's first woman chief.[6] In Thomas' speech for being named the first female fire chief, she thanked the women that came before her because if not for them, she would not have known there was opportunity where there was. Thomas goes on to say that she is excited about having a staff to teach. While she misses being on the truck, she "had the opportunity to deal with people even more on a one on one basis". [8] Thomas doesn't even let hip surgery stand in her way.[6]

Awards and achievements[edit]

High school basketball[edit]

In 1981 and 1982, Thomas’ high school basketball team won the GHSA AAAA Girls Basketball State Championship.[9][10]

High school track and field[edit]

In 1981 Thomas was a state champion in the GHSA AAAA 100 Yard Dash and the GHSA AAAA 220 Yard Dash for Track. She was also a State Champion Runner-Up as the 4th leg in the GHSA AAAA Mile Relay and GHSA AAAA 440 Yard Relay. In 1982 Thomas was a state champion in the GHSA AAAA 100 Yard Dash, GHSA AAAA 220 Yard Dash, and the GHSA AAAA Mile Relay as the 4th leg. She also was a State Champion Runner-Up in the GHSA AAAA 440 Yard Relay as the 3rd leg. [11][12]

College basketball[edit]

In 1983, Thomas was awarded 1st Team Freshman All-American in the Women’s Basketball Yearbook. [13]

College track & field[edit]

In 1983 Thomas was award 1st for running the 4th leg in the NCAA Championships Outdoor 4x100-Meter Relay. That same year she received 3rd place for the NCAA Championships Outdoor 100 Meter and 4th place for NCAA Championships Outdoor 200 Meters. The next year, Thomas placed 1st in the NCAA Championships Outdoor 4x100-Meter Relay as the 3rd leg and NCAA Championships Outdoor Mile Relay as the 2nd leg. She placed 2nd in the NCAA Championships Indoor 4x400-Meter Relay as the 4th leg, the NCAA Championships 100 Meters, and the NCAA Championships 200 Meters.[13]

Other achievements[edit]

In 1983, Thomas was named the Florida State Athlete of the year and was a Three-time All-American as a freshman in the 1983 NCAA Championships. She was also selected as an alternate for the 200 Meter Dash for the United States Olympic Track team that same year. Thomas was inducted in the Florida State University Hall of Fame in 2007. [13]


  1. "Brenda Cliette". Olympedia. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  2. "Brenda Cliette Thomas - Class of 2019 Inductee". Youtube.com. Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. March 6, 2019. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Solomon, Kayla (February 23, 2019). "Macon-Bibb fire prevention chief inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame". 13wmaz.com. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Meet the Inductees: Brenda Cliette". georgiasportshalloffame.com. Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  5. "Class of 2003". Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Henry, Jim (January 10, 2019). "Former 'Nole Olympian Thankful For 2nd Chance". Tallahassee Democrat. Tallahassee Democrat. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  7. "2020 WOMEN OF BUSINESS 2020: GOING THE DISTANCE". georgiasbdc.org. Small Business Development Center University of Georgia. October 22, 2020. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  8. Fabian, Liz (January 29, 2018). "Video: Macon-Bibb Fire names first female chief". Macon.com. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  9. "Results of State Meet" (PDF). ghsa.net. p. 198. Retrieved July 19, 2021.
  10. "Results of State Meet" (PDF). ghsa.net. p. 201. Retrieved July 19, 2021.
  11. "Results of State Meet" (PDF). ghsa.net. p. 143-144. Retrieved July 19, 2021.
  12. "Results of State Meet" (PDF). ghsa.net. p. 143-144. Retrieved July 19, 2021.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 "Brenda Cliette". nolefan.org. Retrieved July 2, 2021.

Thomas, Brenda Cliette

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