Thursday, July 14, 2011
Thompson honored by coaching colleagues
By BARRY BURLESON
Jason Thompson originally wanted to be a boys basketball coach.
“The plan was for me to come in (at H.W. Byers) and work with the girls temporarily until I got the boys,” he said. “I did not think I would be a good fit coaching girls – I’m a hard disciplinarian.”
Ten years later Thompson has built a girls basketball dynasty at the small, rural school on Highway 72 in north Marshall County.
He has coached the Lady Lions to three state championships in the last four seasons. They have been to Jackson five straight times – losing twice in the semifinals. And the Byers girls have won five district crowns in 10 years, including four straight.
“I actually tell my friends that it’s strange how things happen,” Thompson said. “The girls have received my way of doing things, and they have seen the end results.”
A month ago Thompson was named coach of the year by the Northeast Mississippi Coaches Association, his second time to win the honor from his peers. It is voted on by all coaches from the area – Columbus to Tupelo to Byhalia to Booneville.
“It’s a big honor – a great pleasure to know they see your hard work,” Thompson said. “And that hard work carries over to the kids. I have been blessed with young ladies who are talented and who play their best. I have never taken the credit. They carry out the plan. Their path is much more difficult. I have only a small part.”
Thompson is happy working “at home.” He is a 1993 graduate of H.W. Byers – an honor student in the top five in his class. He went to Mississippi Valley State planning to major in computer science but in his third year he switched to P.E. and health. He graduated from Valley in 1998.
He then applied at Byers for an assistant coaching position so he could his work his way up the ladder. But he did not get the job and turned to factory work – two years at Thomas & Betts and one year at Carrier.
“I had to get a job and make money,” Thompson said.
In the summer of 1999, he talked to the Hickory Flat coach, who let him come on board as a volunteer assistant with the junior high and varsity girls and boys.
“It was a great learning experience,” Thompson said.
Then starting the 2001-02 school year, he was hired as the head girls basketball coach at his alma mater.
Thompson thought he would coach the Lady Lions briefly, learn a lot from veteran boys coach Gerone Kirkland and take over for him when he got ready to retire.
“Then later I had a chance to give up the girls or stay with the girls,” Thompson said. “We had worked so hard to get to that point – I decided I wanted to stay with the girls.”
In 10 years as head coach of the Lady Lions, his overall record is 257-103.
“It has been a great 10 years for me,” Thompson said. “I’m thankful. We have great kids and a great community. I enjoy it.
“Girls are great students of the game. They try to take everything you teach and make it work.”
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