BEMIDJI -- A longtime dream became reality for Steve Thompson on Wednesday.
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.”
Thompson plans to continue much of the same philosophies, acknowledging that they vary year-to-year based on a given team’s strengths and weaknesses, “but a lot of things will be very much the same.”
It’s a style that’s led to recent success. The Lumberjacks went 19-7 in 2019-20, losing in the Section 8-3A semifinals, which came a year after a 23-6 record and the program’s first state tournament appearance since 1985. The football and baseball teams have also produced plenty of winning seasons with Thompson’s aid.
“Steve has been a longtime assistant coach for baseball, football and basketball, waiting for the right opportunity to become a head coach,” BHS Activities Director Troy Hendricks said in an email announcing the hire. “Steve has been and will continue to be a great asset to our Bemidji students as he takes over the (reins) from Travis Peterson.”
Thompson said his status with the football and baseball teams is still to be determined as he discusses things with the programs’ respective coaches. Thompson has been the football team’s defensive coordinator since 2016 and is the baseball team’s varsity assistant.
“I have some decisions to make,” he said. “Obviously my family, I have five kiddos, they have to be a priority in my life, as well. I will probably have to change roles or something will have to give a little bit.”
However things shake out, Thompson is all set to be patrolling the sidelines on the hardwood next winter. And he feels ready for the challenge that awaits him.
“I’ve been able to work under a lot of good coaches, and I’ve learned a lot of things from a lot of people in that realm,” he said. “I’ve been put in enough situations to understand the dynamics that go along with being the head coach. I think my (nearly) 20 years of coaching experience has given me all of the information that I need to know moving forward to provide a quality program.”
Wins and losses will be important, of course, but Thompson also wants to develop a culture built on more than that.
“You’re competing for success, and wins and losses are a part of that,” he said. “But my primary goal is to develop young men to be the best version of themselves. There’s a lot that encompasses that, but that’s something I’ve tried to pride myself on as an assistant. I’m going to carry that through into this new position.”