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Amanda Thompson is Living on a Prayer

Sophomore forward/guard for the Mercer University Women's Basketball Team, Amanda Thompson.
Sophomore forward/guard for the Mercer University Women's Basketball Team, Amanda Thompson.

Some athletes find motivation from popular quotes. Some find it from coaches or peers. Others find it from within themselves.

Amanda Thompson finds it in the Bible verse, Colossians 3:23: ““Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

The junior basketball player took a step forward this season amidst the team’s 30-3 historic season. As a sophomore, Thompson averaged 4.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

This year, averaging nearly 29 minutes a game, she averaged 7.2 points and 6.7 rebounds. She ranked fourth on the team in points and first in rebounds.

“I think this year, the biggest place I improved was my shot and scoring and just being confident and not afraid to score,” Thompson said. “I knew coming into this year that was going to be important.”

Thompson said that it was easy for teams to slip off her or Rachel Selph to guard Kahlia Lawrence or KeKe Calloway. But if she and Selph could knock down shots, opponents would have to respect them.

Thompson said last year, her shot had gotten really bad by the end of the season because of a wrist injury, along with other reasons. So she met with head coach Susie Gardner after the season.

“She said, ‘We’re going to fix your shot this offseason,’” Thompson said. “And I was like, ‘Great.’ So we got in the gym. I didn’t shoot for two weeks.. I just did form shooting against the wall and totally rebuilt my shot from the ground up.”

It worked. Thompson said she regained some confidence. The statistics this season back that upc as she nearly doubled her scoring average from her sophomore year.

But while her scoring helped the team this season, it was her rebounding that proved vital. Thompson said that has always been her calling card.

“Rebounding is such an important part of the game. It’s always been. In high school, I was kind of a rebounder. That’s what I did,” she said. “I think it maybe has to do with basketball IQ. And just playing hard. Just playing hard in general.”

Thompson stands at only 5-foot-9, yet she led the team in rebounds and grabbed nine offensive rebounds in the team’s NCAA Tournament game against Georgia. She said that hustle is a result of Colossians 3:23 and her faith.

“When I’m on the court, I’m playing for God,” Thompson said. “I’m not playing for myself or for the people around me. I’m playing for Him. So I think that drives me to get the rebound or dive on the floor. I think that’s the force behind it all.”

She said her faith is the most important part of her life, a life full of basketball and academic excellence.. Thompson won the Pinnacle Award at the Southern Conference Tournament this year, which goes to the player with the highest GPA on the championship-winning team.

Her faith also helps her through some of the more frustrating times on the court.

“We were playing against a team, and one of their post players was being really dirty. I was getting really upset,” Thompson said. “We pray before every game, and my prayer is always like, ‘Help me represent you in everything I do. Help me be a light for you on the court.’”

This particular game, however, Thompson said she had to take more drastic measures.

“I ended up having to pray in the middle of the game, like the whole game,” Thompson said. “I was literally praying like, ‘Please, help me control my anger.’ I don’t think I’ve ever had to pray during a game.”

Others noticed she was heated during the game.

“After the game, somebody was giving me a hard time, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I had to start praying,’” Thompson said. “And they were like, ‘You were really praying?’”

Thompson will take on a bigger role next year as Lawrence and Sydni Means graduate, but she said she’s excited about it. She is excited about the large freshman class and the energy they will bring to the program.

She’ll still approach the game as she has the last three seasons at Mercer.

“At the end of the day, basketball is just a game, but what you’re doing for God is the most important thing,” Thompson said. “Being able to focus on and having that behind me has really kept me focused a lot. I have that verse all over the place."


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