FARMINGTON — Playing football with a bunch of young men has been a breeze for Isabelle Thomas compared to what she really wants to do with her life — study neurology.

Any high school student can say they want to be a neurosurgeon. The senior kicker for the Mt. Blue football team is already taking the first steps to studying medicine before she chooses a college or university.

The soft-spoken Thomas is taking advanced calculus courses at the University of Maine at Farmington.

“My grades are really important to me,” Thomas, who also is a wide receiver and free safety for the team, said. “I am taking Calculus 3.”

Her grades have placed her in Mt. Blue’s top 20, but there is a reason why she is not in the top 10.

“My grades got messed up when I moved here from North Carolina (in the middle of her sophomore year), so they are a little lower,” Thomas explained. “My dad wanted to move back home.”

She’s the real deal and apparently other people think she is an exceptional student, too.

Thomas has been named a Commended Student in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program.

A letter of commendation from the school and National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which conducts the program, will be presented by Mt. Blue High School principal Bruce Mochamer to Thomas.

According to a Mt. Blue press release, about 34,000 Commended Students are being recognized for their exceptional academic promise. Although they will not continue in the 2017 competition for Nation Merit Scholarship awards, Commended Students placed among the top five percent of more than 1.6 million students who entered the 2017 competition by taking the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

“I feel pretty good about it, but I wish I had done a little bit better,” Thomas said. “I am happy with what I got.

“I am looking at colleges in Boston. Tufts University is my top choice right now. I love the area.”

“Isabelle is a great kid,” Mt. Blue football coach Jim Aylward said. “She is one of those kids when you first meet her, you take a liking to her, and learn how smart she is, how involved she is.

“She is just a top-quality kid. She is one of the top-quality kids that I have encountered in 33 years of education. She is a very, very bright girl who’s very motivated to continue her education to the highest level.”

Smart and tough enough

When Thomas came out for football her junior year, she and the rest of the Cougars had to make adjustments for a female player.

But of all the sports Mt. Blue offers, Thomas chose the gridiron to demonstrate her athletic ability.

“I liked it back in middle school. I love the sport,” Thomas said. “I started playing back in middle school. I didn’t like hanging out with the girls who liked to gossip, so I would go in and play with the guys.

“When I got to the high school, I was kind of like, ‘You know what, maybe I can give it a shot.’ They can’t really say no because there is no female alternatives.”

And nobody said no to Thomas when she put on the pads and competed with the boys.

But there is not question the Cougars had to get used to having female on the team last season

“I think it took a little while,” Thomas said. “Like the coaches definitely were every once and while like, ‘Oh wait there’s a girl,’ and the guys at first, were kind of filtered, but now they don’t care. Now I am just a part of the family.”

But Aylward said having a female player come on board in a male-dominated sport wasn’t a big deal to him.

“No, it really wasn’t, to tell you the truth.” Aylwayrd said. “She never really asked for more than she was given. She never made it anything about her. She makes it very easy, how’s that?

“She kicked the extra point against Brunswick last week after our first touchdown. So she is the first girl in the history of the school to score (for the Mt. Blue football team).

“I was shocked last year, and this year, I kind of expected her to (come out again), just knowing her character She will be the first to tell, she is is doing it to challenge herself. She loves a challenge.”

Whether it is on the playing field or in the classroom, Aylward said Thomas likes pushing herself.

“This is a kid who needs all the help she can get,” said Aylward, referring to Thomas’s merit scholarship. “It is good to see people want to help her because she is going to help our society.”

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