Several year ago, I received an email message from Gene Brushart encouraging me to compile a feature story on Pike County’s five Thompson brothers who played NCAA Division I basketball.
In part, Brushart’s email read, ”My reason for emailing you has to do with basketball. I know you are aware of the Thompson men and their background relating to basketball. However, in my opinion, there is a real human interest story of that family’s involvement in basketball and how the game played a major role in their lives. I would like to share some facts to prove my point. Let me say first that they are not aware of my sharing this with you, but I feel their story needs to be told. I would prefer to share it with you rather than someone else or some other sports writer. Let us begin:
”There are five brothers: Ken, Henderson (“Heckie”, deceased), Bill, Bob and Dennis. Ken, Heckie and Bill all graduated from Stockdale High School and were outstanding high school basketball players. Bob and Dennis graduated from Waverly High School where they also were outstanding basketball players.
”Ken, Heckie and Bill all played four years at Morehead State University where they excelled on the Division I college level in basketball. Bob, an all-state high school player, played four years at Ohio State University under coach Fred Taylor. Dennis played and excelled in basketball at Ohio University.
”Ken, Heckie and Bill coached. Heckie was inducted into the Ohio High School Coaches Hall of Fame. Ken and Bill were outstanding high school and college basketball officials. All five brothers made a great contribution to education in Pike County and on the state level. Ken, Heckie and Dennis were school superintendents. Bill was a financial consultant for the Ohio State Department of Education. Bob was a school administrator at Delaware.
”The Thompson brothers’ only sister Bonnie (also a teacher for her career after college graduation) was a cheerleader at Rio Grande College when Bevo Francis played basketball.
”Ken’s son, Ed, played football at OSU under Coach Woody Hayes and was Big Ten First Team Linebacker, played in the Rose Bowl, and was drafted by one of the pro NFL teams.
”I would venture to say that as far as I know there is no other family of athletes that can begin to match the athletic achievement and success (primarily basketball) that these men have enjoyed in their lives. If there is, I would like to know who they are. All five brothers played Division I basketball and had very successful careers in education.”
After meeting with Kenny, Bill and Gene to do an initial interview, I had a general idea of the direction I wanted to go with the story. But that direction also required historical research. Upon starting research, one item led to another — college teams, win-loss records, years, opponents, scores, averages, NCAA tournament results, etc. Going through that information took many hours.
More information came after speaking with the two youngest brothers, Bob and Denny, when they were inducted into the Waverly High School Athletic Hall of Fame on Dec. 29, 2017. Additional research and e-mail interviews followed. Then it took some time to put all of it together into a story in between all of the other current games and athletic events to be covered. With all of the photos and information available for this story, I decided to split it into two parts for publication.
I would like to thank the Thompson brothers for taking the time to share a part of their story with me and for their patience as I compiled the history and their accomplishments.