SAN ANTONIO – The No. 1-ranked rookie bobsled skeleton athlete in the country is living in San Antonio.
Bobsled skeleton is an Olympic sport similar to luge, but it's done head-first.
At 28 years old, Derrick Thomas II spends five days a week doing strength training and sprint mechanics, conditioning the muscles he needs to do bobsled skeleton.
"It's all about shoulder control. You need to be able to shift your body to be able to make the turns. So if I'm turning to my left, I'm pushing off my right shoulder. If I'm turning to my right, I'm pushing off my left shoulder," Thomas said.
The John Jay High School alumnus excelled at football in high school and college. After that, he got the chance to play for the short-lived local arena football team, the San Antonio Talons. His dreams of playing in the NFL didn't work out, but a former bobsledder noticed his athletic abilities and suggested he apply them elsewhere.
"I got into skeleton and I became great at it, and my mind just opened up. That's what really took me to the level that I am," Thomas said.
Thomas tried out for the USA team for the first time last June. He ranked as the No. 1 rookie in the nation. Thomas hopes to inspire youths to push through challenge and open their minds to other sports they may not play.
"Don't limit yourself to what you see in your neighborhood. Thrive past that and really understand that your brain is the most powerful muscle in your body," Thomas said.
Thomas also operates a nonprofit focused on uplifting underprivileged kids, regardless of their athleticism.
"You can really use your brain and get to anywhere you want. All you got to do is believe," Thomas said in his daily message.
Thomas said his stats are good enough to qualify for the Olympics. He's hoping to compete in 2022.
Thomas is also a trainer and wants any children in San Antonio who may be interested in bobsled skeleton to reach out to him. For more information, click here or call (210) 887-5263.