Coach Profile: Lathrop's Mike Thompson 1/16
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
When Mike Thompson came to Lathrop two seasons ago the Mules were a program in need of a change. The previous season Lathrop was winless and the two before that there was only one win in each campaign.
The Mules were a team that had been in the postseason as recently as 2007 but at the beginning of 2011 that seemed a long time gone. In that 2011 season Lathrop improved to 4-6 and last year the Mules were one of the surprise teams in Missouri going 11-2 and advancing to the Class 2 quarterfinals.
Along the way the only losses came to Class 1 champion and new KCI Conference foe Penney and Holden in the playoffs.
Thompson was a head coach before he came to Lathrop but to him the most important thing is what he and his staff have accomplished in the last two seasons and what lies ahead for the program not what his overall win-loss record is for his career.
“I would have to sit down and do some adding to figure out all of the years, different schools, wins and losses,” Thompson said. “But it isn’t something I have ever done or have a desire to do. It is important to me to continue with the core belief we have instilled in Lathrop...The past doesn’t matter, only the future.”
What Thompson and his staff has done is go 15-8 in those two seasons, finish second in a tough conference, win a district title and turn the Mules into one of the better Class 2 teams in the Metro. Going forward Lathrop will look to not rest on the improvements of the past two seasons.
“As a program, we only look at what we have done since the day we all came together in May of 2011,” Thompson said. “Anything before that doesn’t matter. And we will spend the next eight months talking about the fact that our success last season is in the past and now isn’t important...only the future and what the 2013 team accomplishes matters to Lathrop football.”
How Thompson got to Lathrop has a lot to do with where he started. Like a lot of people his high school coaches Tom Cox in football and George Wilson in basketball. They helped mold him to be a good coach passionate about his sport while caring for the individuals who play for him. Thompson said there was also an assistant coach who had a special impact on him.
“The greatest influence was an assistant coach, Jerry Bough, who is the most passionate man I have ever met with extremely high energy, an electric motivating personality, and an unmatched love of all kids,” Thompson said. “In fact Coach Bough came to a game this year and I asked him to give a pregame talk to my guys. It is the only time I have ever done that and he is the only person I would ever ask.”
Thompson has carried those core beliefs that he learned with him and now he uses them to drive his program as a football coach and a teacher.
“Philosophically I believe in high expectations, hard work, dedication, confidence, and all the other things most coaches believe,” Thompson said. “But my core belief is that an answer to all issues can be determined by asking myself one question: Is it best for kids? If the answer is yes then I move forward, if the answer is no then I look for a better way.
“And then the one thing I want to instill in all my kids is for them to live their passion. I believe they should all find the one thing they are most passionate about and do that for the rest of their life. If they live their passion they will be happy people. I get to live my passion every day and wouldn’t trade what I do for anything.”
That passion is working with kids. Thompson said educating and coaching is what drives him everyday.
“I love the kids,” Thompson said. “The everyday interaction with them. Watching them achieve their goals, or helping them deal with disappointment when they have done everything possible but fallen short. The kids are what make this profession the best in the world. I also love the competition, the chess match that takes place between the two teams. That is exciting, but it doesn't mean much without those guys in pads sweating and growing as men every day.
“If I could change something it would probably be the adults who forget that these kids are playing a game, or who don't provide their kid with a safe environment, or who just don't care or support kids in a manner that helps each kid be a better person and allow them to enjoy football the way it should be enjoyed. I feel very lucky to be part of a community as Lathrop that has been so supportive of myself and the football program over the last two seasons. Lathrop football really is a community football team.”
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