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He bleeds Liberty blue.
Mike Thompson, the newly announced head coach of the Minutemen baseball squad, is as home-grown as they come.
And he loves that.
Thompson was introduced as only the third head coach in the history of Liberty baseball by athletic director Lori Mattson.
“We are excited to name Mike Thompson as our new Varsity Baseball Coach,” stated Mattson. “We are confident that Mr. Thompson’s vast experience as both a player and coach, his love for teaching, and his respect for the game of baseball will all aid him in carrying on the long-standing tradition of baseball excellence at Liberty High School.”
Thompson takes over from Stewart Grant, whose contract was not renewed at the end of the season that ended last spring.
Thompson was an assistant to Grant for the past six years, also serving as the team’s pitching coach.
Prior to that, he was the Liberty JV coach for nine years, leading the Minutemen to district titles in three of those seasons.
He was also an assistant on the Liberty football team.
Thompson’s first goal is to build enthusiasm for the program. “I want to make sure the players that are there want to be there,” he said. “That they’re not just filling time or there because their dads want them to be there.
“I want to build a program around people that enjoy the game and want to play it.”
Thompson was a product of the Jim Cutler program at Liberty, playing for the school’s original coach. Thompson played first base for Liberty, graduating in 1993.
He also played for Bedford’s (now defunct) American Legion Post 54 team alongside standouts Ryan Gilleland and Brandon Inge.
Thompson played at Longwood, graduating in 1997, with a degree in psychology. We’re not saying that such a degree might be helpful with his coaching duties. At a minimum, it will come in handy when dealing with local media.
Immediately upon graduation, Thompson was enlisted by Cutler to coach the Liberty JV team. Concurrently, Thompson picked up a teaching degree from Lynchburg College
He teaches ninth-grade world history and twelfth-grade government at Liberty High School.
As if that weren’t enough of a Liberty connection, Thompson’s wife, Danielle, is also a Liberty graduate. She was also a nifty softball player, earning all-ODAC recognition while playing at Lynchburg College.
She teaches at...Liberty High School (Special Ed and English). The couple has two children, nine-year-old Millie and three-year-old Canaan. Anyone care to hazard a guess on where those two might go to high school someday?
“Except for the four years in college, I’ve been a part of the program,” said Thompson. “It’s an honor to be a part of it. That’s exciting.”
Thompson plans to get involved with the lower levels of the program. Additionally, he’s given up football, for now. “I want to give baseball my full attention as we ramp up in my first year,” he said.
The team is coming off a .500 season, overall; one that saw the Minutemen finish with a 4-8 mark in district play. What will make things challenging is that the team lost a bunch of seniors. In fact, last year’s team often featured seven seniors in starting roles.
He’s putting together a staff, as a starting point. Thompson has gotten Sean Trosper and Ethan Lucas to agree to return as assistants. He’s in talks with Aaron Phillips to do the same. He also may bring back some former players to help get the team where he wants it.
And that is? “I want to make this a part of the players’ lives they will look back upon with fondness,” said Thompson.
The same way the new coach looks back on his old days.