By Carlena Knight
Heidi Thomas – former national female footballer and sister of Peter “Big Pete” Byers and Janiel Simon, says that she did not feel pressure walking in her brother’s footsteps.
Thomas played locally for Lady SAP and also featured on the women’s national team.
Thomas who comes from a family of national players, revealed that football was not her first love, but because of the love she saw her brothers express for the game, she eventually gravitated to it.
“Growing up I was more called a ‘Tom Boy.’ Football wasn’t my first sport. I did track first, and I excelled in that, and then I ventured into tennis, and while starting for Jennings Secondary I was introduced to football. I really had no choice,” she said jokingly. “My brothers used to come home everyday saying about how many goals they scored, especially Peter, and I used to get jealous after a while because they used to travel so much, and I was like ‘Nah, I want to travel too.’ So, after going to JSS and being introduced to football, that is when I started to travel a lot, but I had no other choice but to play because my brothers played.”
She says she feels blessed to have a support system like the one she has, but she singled-out her older brother, Janiel, for his extra push.
“He pushes me a lot. After finishing secondary school, he was like ‘Mara you can go to college, you can go to the college that I went to,’ and I am so happy that I did that and took up his offer because going to my first college which was a junior college, it was the same college he went to, and when I entered that door and I looked at the left, who you think I saw on a big picture? Janeil. The coach told me that my brother changed this school. He came and he worked hard and he made me win my first championship.
“Even when things happened to me, when I got pregnant in university in my third year, and before I even called home to tell my parents, I called Janeil first.” Thomas first attended Bryant and Stratton College before moving on to Grambling State University where she studied Criminal Justice.