Thompson versus Barrow for thirty years

Published 8:12 am Saturday, August 26, 2017

Editorial by Bobby Tingle


Cornel Thompson has been coaching long enough to be interviewed by sports editors he helped raise and see players his teams had to contend with on the field become head coaches.

Van Wade is the sports editor Thompson helped raise.

Monte Barrow is a high school quarterback his team had to contend with on the football field who is now a head coach.

Thompson has an infectious smile according to Dawn Burleigh, Orange Leader editor. She doesn’t understand all the complexities of fourth and one in the fourth and down by two. But, she has a good eye for photos and graphics and knows a winsome smile when she sees it in a photo.

Thompson also has an infectious personality. He can give a season preview update behind a podium using a public address system as good as any coach I have seen. He worked his charm on a room of Orange Rotarians this week.

He knows how to lure you into seeing the world from his perspective. He does it with that ‘infectious smile’, hearty laugh and winsome words. He prefers to motivate and inspire rather than oppress and intimidate his audience. Pretty soon he has you eating out of his hand.

I suspect Thompson knows how to motivate his players. I have paid attention to the West Orange-Stark Mustang athletes more the past two years than ever before in my life.

I know several things about them as a group.

First, they are hard workers.

Second, they are prepared.

Third, they are strong.

Fourth, they are fast.

Finally, they are STINGY.

Thompson called this quality ‘salty’ last year referring to the limited number of points his team gave up.

I know where his players get that attitude. They get it from Coach.

He doesn’t force them to accept his ways, he wins them over, and then they work hard to achieve his goals.

Monte Barrow is the new head coach of the Nederland High School Bulldogs. He remembers me washing my car in the front yard playing a Peter Frampton 8-track tape though my open bedroom window. I am grateful he doesn’t remember the other artists I played, some of who expressed thoughts inappropriate for Barrow at that tender age.

He was six years old. He was my neighbor. I was in high school.

How in the world do I remember a six-year-old neighbor from my high school years? He had winsome ways, even then. Inevitably, if we heard a knock on the door it was Barrow. He was looking for someone to play catch with. Apparently, his parents and siblings were worn out and he needed fresh recruits. I gave in a time or two, enough that this two foot nothing six-year-old made an impression on me.

Nearly ten years after I graduated from NHS, my mom asked me if I knew who the Bulldog quarterback was. No, I responded, knowing full well I would soon find out. Several years later, she asked if I knew who the new coach at NHS was. Ditto. Last February when NHS named a new head football coach I was prepared when my mom asked if I knew Barrow had struck again. You see this same two foot nothing six-year-old also made an impression on her. He persuaded her to play catch a time or two as well. She kept up with Barrow as he progressed from player to coach.

I suspect Barrow is much today like he was then; persuasive and inspiring. I suspect he is pulling rather than pushing.

Sounds a bit like Thompson.

I visited with Thompson after he spoke at Rotary this week. We talked about the Mustangs trip to Nederland to open the football season. He has a high regard for his opponents head coach. He expects Barrow and his Bulldogs to be well prepared and well coached. Thompson has kept up with Barrow over the years as well and knows what he is capable of.

Beware Monte, I think Thompson is working you.


Bobby Tingle is publisher of The Orange Leader. You can reach him at