Bemidji High School announced Thompson as the new head coach of the boys basketball team, promoting the 13-year assistant to the program’s top post.
“This is something that I’ve always dreamt of,” Thompson said. “I’ve always wanted to be a head basketball coach, and now I’ve been given this opportunity in a community where I’m raising my family. I’m really excited about the chance to expand upon and build the program even further.”
A 1995 graduate of Deer River High School, Thompson started coaching at BHS in 2007 with the football, boys basketball and baseball programs. He worked under Travis Peterson for the past five winters, and now he stands as Peterson’s successor.
“I’ve been working hand-in-hand with Travis here for the last five years with the development of the program,” Thompson said. “From a transition standpoint, I think it should be pretty seamless as far as relationships with players, systematic X’s and O’s.”
Katie Alto and fellow senior Silas Hess earned the coveted distinction of Athletes of the Year on Wednesday in a virtual awards ceremony by the high school. Normally, the awards are presented in person, coupled with the annual Hall of Fame ceremony, and given to a male and female senior.
Alto has always had a quiet demeanor about her, and she lets her game do the talking. She’s not a flashy player on the soccer pitch, instead a defensive-minded midfielder whose heavy influence doesn’t always result with her name on the scoresheet. But, in moments of need, she also stepped up and launched some of the biggest goals of the program’s Section 8A three-peat.
The parallels extended onto the basketball hardwood, where Alto established herself as a premier defender before evolving into an offensive weapon, as well. She participated in both track and field and softball during her prep career, proving that she’s equally adept no matter what sport you throw her into.
Hess, by his own admission, likes to talk a little more (and perhaps a bit too much at times). He’ll crack a smile and tell you as much, but, like Alto, he nearly always gets the job done when it counts.
He raced through the soccer record books and became the most accomplished goal producer in program history. He had six goals and four assists during a dream playoff run to the 2018 Class A state championship game, and he exits as a part of the winningest class in program history.
In basketball, his relentless hustle and sharp facilitating made the Lumberjacks a better team, and he was integral to the program breaking a 34-year state tournament drought. If not for a pandemic, he might have aided the tennis team to its first section title this spring, as well.
Both are off to Division II soccer next fall; Alto will attend Concordia-St. Paul, while Hess will be at Colorado Christian alongside his twin brother, Ben.
Without the chance to honor seniors in a postseason banquet due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bemidji High School girls basketball head coach Steve Schreiber honors his seniors by detailing what they meant to the program. The Lumberjacks finished 19-9 in 2019-20 and reached their first section championship game in 10 years.
Our five seniors prevailed through massive adversity over their high school careers, from an injury to a key player in the first game of each of their four years to a tough schedule that included some of the best teams in the state.
All five -- Katie Alto, Lindsey Hildenbrand, Ashley Hofstad, Jenna Jones and Taylor Wade -- can step away from this program and say that it is better now than when they started, and that is a huge thing. Not only that, they also did incredible things off the basketball court -- whether it be the little things like spending an extra moment to say hi, high-five or just play around with the girls in the youth program to big things like fundraising for Jane Comfort.