NABF good for Thompson, Loudon

Lauren Kittrell

Bill Thompson Baseball Field looms large in the distance at Loudon High School.

Bill Thompson missed out on high school baseball as a teenager, but he has spent his entire career building a program for his alma mater from the ground up. The Loudon High and University of Tennessee graduate not only founded the team, but has been coaching it ever since.

"Well I started the baseball program and I've coached here for 38 years," Thompson said. "We started the program and started playing down at the old field in 1975 and we built the field here back in 1998. I guess they figured that since I started the program and I've been here so long, they'd just name it that."

Though Thompson never had the opportunity to play on an organized baseball team, much of his experience comes from his years of playing softball and competing in the Smoky Mountain Classic. But Thompson said that was a long time ago.

His desire to focus more on his baseball team and coaching eventually overtook his softball hobby.

Softball wasn't the only thing Thompson gave up to focus more on baseball. Only last year, Thompson retired as a social studies teacher and athletics director at Loudon.

"I just recently retired from teaching this past spring," Thompson said. "Next year I'm just coaching and not teaching so I'm looking forward to seeing how that is."

Currently one of the hosts of the NABF High School World Series, Thompson said the experience has been not only enjoyable, but edifying for his players.

"There's a lot of good players and good teams here and it's fun to see all of these teams and just the quality of baseball in this tournament has been very good," Thompson said. "It's good for our players to be subjected to that and to play some of the best players and best teams in this part of the country."

Thompson's third baseman, rising freshman Cody Townson, began playing baseball at age 4 and loved watching Loudon. He always hoped to play for the team he cheered for growing up.

"It's a good feeling," Townson said. "I feel like I've accomplished something during my baseball career so far and I just want to keep working hard at it."

Townson said there's one person who has always been there to support him and help him get an advantage over other players.

"My dad. He's helped me since I was little and I've played traveling ball all my life," Townson said. "Traveling ball is a little more competition than rec ball and just going through that and going to high school makes me a better player than most average rec ball players."

Thompson said that he sees a lot of potential in Townson and looks forward to having him around for the next four years.

"Cody's got a lot of potential to be a very good player," Thompson said. "He's played for us all summer now and his father played for me until he graduated Loundon back in 1989. So now, Cody will be a freshman next year and we're counting on him contributing a lot for us next spring. He's a good one."

Chad Lane, a Loudon fan, said he's excited to have Townson join the program as well. With a son already playing, Lane looks forward to seeing how Townson will impact the team.

"He's an exceptional baseball player and he's gonna really benefit Loudon High School for the next four years," Lane said.

While Loudon got off to a rough start in the NABF with a 16-0 loss to Top Tier, Thompson said he's just looking forward to seeing how this experience will help the players learn and grow.

"I'm looking forward to our players continuing to work hard and get better and putting them through a good condition program," Thompson said. "Not teaching does take a little work off of you so I'm anxious to see how it's gonna be with just coaching."