Mike Thompson is about to see how the other half lives.
Thompson, who served as Deer Creek-Lamont High School’s head football, boys basketball and track coach as well as the school principal, is leaving the school to become principal at Medford.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t do a very good job last year,’’ said Thompson, who had been at DCLA for seven years. “I just don’t have the energy level that I used to. There was a lot of wear and tear on me. It was just time for me to go to another chapter in my life.’’
He won’t be do any coaching, but has told Medford coaches he will do anything he can to help them.
“Except line the field,’’ Thompson said with a chuckle. “I’m through lining the field.’’
Thompson previously coached at Ringwood for six years, Wakita for two, Freedom for two and Valiant for nine years. He will remain the director of the Oklahoma 8-Man Coaches Association.
“I’m going to try to grow that thing,’’ Thompson said. “This frees me up to travel and go around to do things. Over the past few years, there have been places I wanted to go to, but we hadn’t been able to work it out.’’
Thompson said new Medford football coach Andy Claborn, who has won more than 240 games in his career, “will get the kids out and get football to where people expect it to be.’’
He won’t miss the weekends watching film and preparing game plans after a long week to begin with.
“There are several things that I’ve wanted to do, but haven’t had chance to,’’ Thompson said. “I have a bucket list. I can get with the boys and watch a game somewhere and not have to worry about getting prepared for the next week.’’
His daughter, Morgan, recently graduated from nursing school and his new job will allow him to spend more time with her wherever she ends up.
Thompson said his principal duties will keep him active in athletics.
“I have never gotten to see the softball kids play because I always had practice,’’ he said. “It’s good for the kids to see that you’re interested in what they’re interested in. I will try to encourage the kids to get involved in different things.’’
Medford was attractive to him because his son, Zac, is in the oil business there. He has good memories of all of his stops in the area.
“It’s great place to raise kids,’’ Thompson said of northwest Oklahoma. “I love the things small schools offer — they can be in music, show animals ... things you can’t necessarily do at bigger schools where you tend to specialize.’’
He worked closely with David Zachary for six of the seven years at DCLA. Zachary was his boss as the head football coach and superintendent.
“It was a good learning experience for me,’’ Thompson said. “I told the (DCLA) board the other night how I appreciated the opportunity. It was a positive experience for the whole family.
“You do whatever needs to be done in a small school. The fall sets the tone for the year and your discipline. We were striving for excellence in all activities.’’
The Zachary-Thompson team led the Eagles to their first-ever state football championship in 2010. Thompson led DCLA to the playoffs last season, extending the school’s consecutive playoff streak to six years.
“That was a pretty good one,’’ Thompson said.
Thompson remembers when his family was visiting the DCLA campus seven years earlier. Son Lawson, who would be an All-Star quarterback and school valedictorian was impressed.
“He said the school looked good enough to win a state championship,’’ Thompson said. “The kids there were hard-working and did everything I asked them to do.’’
His best memory was getting to coach Zac and Lawson in football, basketball and track and follow Morgan’s sports closely.
“There were probably days that it wasn’t near as fun for them, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything,’’ Thompson said. “I was able to do what I wanted to do — spend some quality time with the kids. I got to be involved with all three of them. It was definitely worth it.’’
Thompson said having children on the team allowed him to get to know the others players off the field better.
“They didn’t know whether to call me Mr. Thompson or Coach Thompson,’’ he said. “It was a great time.’’