Coach Richard Thompson

Attend the Annual Richard Thompson Track & Field Classic on February 24 at South Mountain High School!

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On February 24, 2018, the South Mountain High School track team will compete at the Annual Richard Thompson Track & Field Classic. The idea for the meet originated three years ago with Brian Fair, the Athletic Director at South, and cross country and track coach Dwayne Evans.

“We needed to bring a sense of something positive back to South Mountain High School,” Evans said. “We started talking about having a South Mountain Classic and it dawned on me, what would embody South Mountain track and field. I said to myself that would be a great way to honor him … to have the Richard Thompson Classic.”

But who is Richard Thompson? He was a student at South in the 1950’s, a varsity track athlete in 1958, and has been coaching for over 50 years. Thompson has helped three athletes get to the Olympics: Calvin Smith in 1988, Harvey Glance in 1976, and Evans who won the bronze medal for the men’s 200-meter event at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

Evans was just a little boy when he first met Thompson.

“I had to be about 10 years old. My brother and I were leaving the boys club … and there was a group of kids in the back. I went up to him and told him I’d like to run.”

Years later, when Evans was a junior at South, he was participating in an invitational championship at Phoenix College, where he would be going up against Reggie Edwards, a competitor who had beaten him the previous year.

“My mother didn’t get a chance to come … as she was having surgery,” Evans said. “[Thompson] gave me a 3 by 5 card. It brings tears to my eyes to think about it. In one corner he had two dimes taped and down in the bottom corner he had two dimes taped. And he said, ‘After you win the race, there’s a phone over by the gym. I want you to get over there and call your mother.’ I remember hitting the line after the 100-meter and going across the field and calling my mom with that little 3 by 5 card.”

According to Evans, Thompson has participated in every track competition South has won from 1958 to the latest victory, the girls championship in 2015.

“It’s been a privilege to just be mentored by him. I go to him and just listen,” Evans said. “He was more than just a coach. He’s still more than a coach.”

Evans paused, stared at the ceiling, and smiled.

“He was … a master at motivation. I don’t know if you ever thought about somebody believing in you more than you believe in yourself sometimes. That was him. He was just that confident in me and everybody else that he coached.”

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Coach Richard Thompson