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Homecoming pride

  • DSU alumna is also a ‘Hawk Mom,’ so says her customized t-shirt

    Monday, March 2, 2020
    Sheba Needam-Thomas, her niece Whitney (left) & daughter Destiny

    Sheba Needam-Thomas of Worton, Md. debuted a daring fashion “leap” that was months in the making during UMES' Feb. 29 homecoming basketball doubleheader. 

    Needam-Thomas donned a stylish black t-shirt emblazoned with four words. The front said “Hornet Pride” accompanied by an image of a menacing wasp.  (Are there any other kind?

    The UMES women's and men's basketball teams played a pair of Leap Day 2020 games against the Delaware State University Hornets, their U.S. Rt. 13 rivals from Dover. 

    Ah, but there was more to Needam-Thomas' one-of-kind top. 

    Emblazoned on the back of her shirt were the words “Hawk Mom” along with the UMES athletics department's scowling hawk head logo. 

    Needam-Thomas, a 2002 Del State alumna, said the shirt raised a few eyebrows in the William P. Hytche Athletic Center when she encountered UMES alumni face-to-face.  One man did approach and question her choice of attire. 

    “I smiled and quickly turned around,” she said. “We both had a good laugh.” 

    Needam-Thomas' daughter, Destiny, is a UMES freshman member of the Hollarin' Hawks pep squad. 

    “She was definitely excited about it,” Needam-Thomas said when she showed Destiny the mix-message shirt. 

    Mom Thomas came up with the idea during UMES' annual parents' weekend back in the fall, when she noticed the serendipity of the academic calendar showed the Hawks' homecoming opponent was her alma mater. 

    Homecoming festivities at historically black colleges and universities are popular, well-attended social events that appeal to people from sister institutions. 

    “When I saw they were going to play Delaware State,” Needam-Thomas said, “I knew I had to do something special.”

    So, she reached out to Paris Cannon, a cousin in Easton, Md. who dabbles in designing custom-made clothing.  The two agreed a tongue-in-cheek top for the games staged in what promised to be a warm setting between heated rivals was the ideal textile statement, so to speak. 

    For the past 10 years, Needam-Thomas has worked as a licensed dental hygienist in Chestertown, Md., a job she describes as a terrific career choice after initially landing a job as a dentist's assistant. 

    She said her family has long embraced historically black institutions as a college education option.  Her niece, Whitney Vass-Needam, is a 2018 UMES alumna with a degree in rehabilitation services. Vass-Needam attended homecoming 2020, using her cellphone to record the festivities. 

    Needam-Thomas said reaction to her sartorial selection already has her thinking about other custom tops she can wear to show support for her daughter, UMES -- and HBCUs. 

    Results of the doubleheader mirrored Needam-Thomas' shirt; the Lady Hawks won their game, but the UMES men lost to their counterparts.

    #HawkPride