MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — In his last two seasons as a high school football coach, Larry Thompson coached in McDowell and Wyoming Counties. This fall, Thompson will pace the sidelines in the shadow of LSU’s Tiger Stadium.
Thompson has been named an assistant coach at University Lab High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He and his fiancee Chelsea will trade the mountains for the bayou in the coming weeks.
“We went down there to visit last week,” Thompson said. “She loved the area. I used to live there in high school. Once I found out the school was on LSU’s campus and did some research and saw the level of coaches and talent down there, it was a no-brainer for me.”
Thompson will return to the area where he played high school football. He played for Dutchtown High School in Ascension Parish, which is about twenty miles away from Baton Rouge.
“My parents are Marines. My dad was always being re-stationed. From kindergarten all the way to high school, I went to a new school every other year. After September 11th, my dad was actually in the Pentagon when it was hit. Thankfully we were blessed and nothing directly impacted us. They stationed us in Louisiana after that.
“When I got down there, I fell in love with the culture and with the community I was living in. The southern part of Louisiana is beautiful. It is a little bit different than here in the mountains. We have gators, snakes and swamps down there. But the culture and the food are magnificent and I always told myself one day if I had the opportunity, I would love to go back.”
University Lab High School was formed as part of Louisiana State University’s College of Human Sciences and Education. Classes and facilities are housed right in the middle of LSU’s campus. The Cubs’ football team went 9-5 last fall, advancing to the LHSAA Division II state semifinals. Thompson will coach wide receivers.
“I am infatuated with the Tigers. I love LSU and I love that state. Looking at the roster and my position group alone, I have two or three kids that already have ‘Power 5’ offers. Some are underclassmen, some are upperclassmen. I have a big role to play and I am excited for it.
“I want to coach football the rest of my life. I want to move up in this game. Sometimes to move up, you have to take a step back. Taking a step back in regards to title was okay with me because down south football is on a whole other level.”
Thompson wrapped up his playing career at Concord University in 2013 and became the head coach at Mount View in 2014. He led the Golden Knights to the Class A quarterfinals in 2018 with a 10-2 record.
“I love the fact that McDowell County and (superintendent) Nelson Spencer, who is now retired, gave me the opportunity to be a head football coach at a very young age.
“Each year we got better and our goal was to get better in something every year. I had the chance to watch those kids grow from boys to young men. A lot of them are in college and some of them are about to graduate real soon. To see that come full circle is eye-opening and it is humbling.”
In 2019, Thompson guided Wyoming East to the Class AA playoffs with an 8-3 mark. It was the Warriors’ first postseason appearance in five years.
“We had a historic season. We had a huge group of seniors. Some of those kids are going to get the chance to play next year at the next level. I might have hurt some feelings along the way. When people leave places, they build those types of bonds and sometimes those bonds need to be broken moving forward.
Thompson will take fond memories of the Mountain State with him and would certainly welcome an opportunity to return in the future.
“Just because me and my fiancee are moving doesn’t mean that being able to come back isn’t a possibility. Right now while we are young enough, and have the ability to do this, we are going to take a chance and see where life takes us and go from there.”