Thompson has storied history before BGSU

Bill Bordewick and Bill Bordewick

Long before the basketball team of George Mason University put the school on the map for their magical run through the 2006 NCAA Tournament, The Patriots were best known for a very successful run that the men’s soccer team had during the early eighties.

One of the better players on those Patriot teams of yesteryear- current BGSU men’s soccer coach Fred Thompson.

Thompson was born in Jamaica and then made the transition from warm weather to cold weather at a very young age, when his family moved to Mississuaga, Ontario Canada. “It was very difficult to get into the U.S. in the sixties, so my dad moved to Toronto first and then brought the rest of the family up,” Thompson said.

Thompson and six other Canadians came in as part of the freshmen recruiting class for the Patriots of George Mason University before the 1982 season.

The 1982 season was a very special season for the Patriots. The men’s soccer team started out the season by going 19-0 and climbing all the way up 8th in the national standings.

“We didn’t have the nicest facilities at George Mason, so it was always nice to go into someone else’s nicer facility and beat them,” Thompson said.

Thompson enjoyed a brilliant career during his four years at George Mason. During his tenure as a Patriot, Thompson tallied 98 points and scored 40 goals. Thompson’s 98 points and 40 goals rank him 4th and 5th respectively in Mason’s record books.

The 40 goals is nice but current leading goal scorer for this season’s season squad, Ahmad Smith, believes he has a chance of breaking his record.

“Coach was a great player, but I think I could be better. My number one goal is to beat Omari Aldridge (last season’s leading goal scorer) but surpassing the coach would probably be right up there.” Smith said.

After finishing his storied career as a Patriot, Thompson went on to play professionally for eight seasons. Thompson played for the Baltimore Blast and the Tacoma Stars of the Major Indoor Soccer League, the Sacramento Knights of the Continental Indoor Soccer League.

Thompson was also the starting sweeper for the Jamaican National team from 1988-1990. “It’s amazing to put your country’s colors on and go out and play for your country,” Thompson said. “It’s unfortunate that Jamaica isn’t up to par. With that said, I’m very grateful for what I have in the U.S.”

After Thompson finished up his playing days he moved on to coaching. He began his coaching career in 2000 at Bellevue Community College in Bellevue, Washington. While at Bellevue, he compiled a 28-8-6 record and a league title in his two seasons. In 2001, he was named Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) coach of the year.

After moving on from Bellevue, Thompson became an assistant at the University of Evansville from 2002-2003.

Thompson became the 4th head coach in the 41 year history of the BG men’s soccer program on April 22, 2004.

His assistant coach Tony Economopoulos, believes Thompson’s coaching style has a purpose. “It’s always a thought-out process with Coach Thompson-it’s not just running and drills. He’s always thinking.”

Economopoulos, a goalkeeper at Oklahoma City University, jokingly added, “If I played against Coach Thompson in every game, he would have only had 20 goals.”

In 2005, GMU decided to have its inaugural hall of fame class for all sports. “George Mason got together who each award would get named after and I was picked for Most Valuable Player,” Thompson said. “It’s a great honor.”

Thompson’s play during his four year career was definitely worthy of MVP consideration. He was a two-time All-South Atlantic Region honoree; he earned All-Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) South honors his junior year and was named to the All-Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) squad in 1985.

Thompson is tied for 20th on the all-time career point list for those players of Virginia Universities. He is also tied for 11th in career goals

Beating the University of Virginia was always a good feeling for Thompson. “UVA controlled the four years before and the four years I played but during my time we were always knocking them out in the first round.”

Forward Jai Lewis and head coach Jim Larranaga stole the spotlight last spring, but coach Thompson’s legacy at GMU will not be forgotten.