Wilson has named a new head softball coach with deep connections to the Tenleytown school, tapping David Thompson — a 1988 alumnus, current faculty member and Wilson parent with 16 years of coaching experience. The school is scheduled to announce Thompson’s selection today.
Thompson most recently served as head coach for Wilson’s junior varsity baseball team. But he’s also very familiar with the softball team after having two daughters — Hannah and Sarah — go through the Tigers’ program over the last five years, with the latter graduating last spring.
“I’m really looking forward to building a program,” Thompson said. “Wilson is a place that I love. There is a feeling and a tone that I really aspire to. There’s an edge and a fight — how you deal with the [D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association], how you deal with the perception of public schools against private schools. We are the underdog but also the favorite.”
Thompson takes over for Kelsey Curran, who led the Wilson softball team to the DCIAA crown last spring and built a strong team during her two years at the helm. Curran recently took the head coaching job at St. John’s, which created an opening at Wilson.
For Wilson athletics director Mitch Gore, appointing Thompson to the post was an easy choice.
“I’m excited to have a Wilson alumni — a former Tiger — come back to lead our Tigers,” said Gore. “It’s exciting. I have been very impressed with what David has done helping to build our baseball program. I think he will do a great job with softball. We have a softball team; I think he will build a softball program.”
As a student, Thompson won a pair of DCIAA baseball crowns — prior to the school’s current 25-year championship streak. He started his coaching career in 1997 with a push from former Wilson baseball coach and athletics director Eddie Saah adding to his duties as a math and computer science teacher.
“He had me coach first base. I had never coached before,” said Thompson. “He let me coach the junior varsity for 10 years.”
Thompson briefly left the school to take a job at the D.C. Public Schools system’s central office in 2004 as a program development specialist for career and technical education. But he continued to do some coaching, helping out with his four children’s T-ball and Little League teams.
The 1988 Wilson graduate returned to the school in 2011 as an instructional coach, with Thompson describing his role as making “sure that every child has an excellent teacher. I work specifically with math and science teachers and help them become excellent.” Meanwhile, Thompson also jumped back into working in the Tigers’ dugout.
“When I came back to work at Wilson, I interviewed with coach [James] Silk and and started coaching the JV,” he said.
In addition to Thompson’s administrative role at the Tenleytown school, he is also in charge of its robotics program, which has given him a unique background for team-building.
“Part of robotics is building the culture with the participants, and they are part of a team and something bigger — a program,” he said. “I really like doing that with the robotics — we do fundraising and trips. Softball really wants to do trips.”
Thompson’s experience with the baseball program has provided him with a vision on how to create a viable long-term structure for the softball squad.
The key? “Developing a strong parent group that can have ownership of the program,” said Thompson. “I have seen it with baseball. It helps the longevity of the program. Part of it is getting folks engaged and believing in the program.”
The first step, Thompson said, will be establishing a developmental junior varsity team — something that the softball program has had just one time in the last six years.
“I would like to recruit enough girls so that we have two teams to really have a program,” said Thompson. “There are enough young ladies out there that want to do something in the spring and can find a place to fit in. Having a junior varsity team goes a long way to building a program.”
Although Wilson has graduated the top stars on last year’s title-winning team — pitcher Nora Parisi and shortstop Sarah Thompson — the cupboard is hardly bare.
“We have had a few meetings and some good exploratory meetings, and have some good kids coming in from Deal and Hardy [middle schools]. And some kids that have moved out of charter schools and are in the neighborhood and coming here,” said the new coach.
With an infusion of new talent and Thompson’s vision for success this spring and beyond, the Tigers are hoping to take a strong team to the next level, where it can battle for a state title.
“I’m looking forward to building on the successes of the previous teams and coaches,” said Thompson.