Last week inside the Sumner High gymnasium, the Spartans celebrated arguably one of the school’s greatest-ever athletes: Jordan Thompson.
The small and simple ceremony was filled with just about every coach from the athletic department and much of the school’s faculty, who all came to celebrate Thompson and her time, accomplishments and what she meant to Sumner, both the school, the district and the community.
“I honestly didn’t know that this was going to happen,” said Thompson, admitting she forgot that there was going to be any event celebrated in her honor. “I forgot that they said they were going to do something for me, but I didn’t expect to see all my friends and just about the entire faculty come out. It’s just incredible.”
Due to NCAA rules, Thompson cannot sign her commitment to Gonzaga University and women’s soccer team until National Signing Day on Feb. 1.
“I don’t know another school or community that would come out and celebrate someone’s accomplishments,” Thompson said. “It’s cool to know that you have that many people behind you.”
Thompson will already be attending classes at Gonzaga when she signs, and since Sumner High and the community won’t be able to celebrate one of its greatest on that day, Sumner athletic director Jeff Baines decided to celebrate Thompson for was she has accomplished over her four years.
“I’m not going to talk long because I’m not going to make it. I already start to feel myself well up,” said Baines during his speech last week. “I will say this: Four years ago when Jordan came to Sumner High School, I turned to (Sumner girls coach Robi Turley) and said, ‘Who is that?’ She said it was Jordan Thompson and she was phenomenal.”
That was when Thompson was freshman, and over the last four years, words from Turley only spoke half the truth of what she meant to a school and community.
Many Spartan coaches found it difficult to say goodbye last week — those who have seen the seemingly tireless effort she put forth each and every practice, game and meet. Sumner boys track and field coach Maurice Dudley saw the raw talent Thompson demonstrated by setting six school records in one season of track.
“This athlete opened up a gateway of opportunities for female athletes at this high school,” said Dudley, who was also speaking on behalf of girls track coach Kristin Chapman. “She was an outstanding track athlete and I was very excited to be able to have her come out her at the end of the year.”
Sumner football coach Keith Ross followed and said Thompson was who he wanted his daughter to use as a role model.
But no coach had more trouble seeing the Spartans star go than Turley, her now-former soccer coach.
Minutes before Thompson arrived, tears began to well up in Turley’s eyes while she was looking at a collage of pictures highlighting Thompson’s career. Many of the photos were from this past season, where Sumner finished second in the 4A SPSL and Thompson took home the league MVP.
But one photo tucked away in the corner was extra special for Turley, a treasure Baines had found in the archives.
It was a photo of Sumner’s last state championship (2A in 2013), and standing there was a baby-faced Thompson there with her teammates after she scored the game-winning goal to give Sumner the chance to hoist that trophy at the end.
“There is no doubt that she not only impacted our soccer program, but she impacted the whole city of Sumner and our school as well,” Turley said. “She’s done a lot, just not for the soccer program. She comes in and scores the winning goal and brings back a state championship. And then takes us back to state every year, and almost gets us into the final four this year.”
“As a soccer program, I don’t think we’ll ever replace her,” Turley added. “She’s one of the best leaders and players we’ve had here. What we can hope is we can get some people in here who will try be as good of a leader as she is. She’s impacted everyone — it’s a big loss for Sumner High School. I just hope we can keep creating as good as people as she is, but I’m excited for her future too and how she can impact Gonzaga, too.”
It was a special moment, and in very much like the All-American and how she has presented herself over the years, it wasn’t her moment.
It was a moment for all of her teammates, her school and very much a moment for Sumner — as well as beginning for a small school and town that started to think of bigger things, and grew up alongside Thompson these past four years.
As the greatest athlete in Sumner’s history quietly and unceremoniously signs her letter of intent in two weeks, most likely during a passing period between classes at Gonzaga, it will be her moment.
One she worked for tirelessly and selflessly along the way.
“You hear it coming in that Sumner High School is the best place you’ll ever be, and as a freshman you’re like, ‘Yeah, maybe,’” said Thompson as she fought back tears while stopping for a moment from time to time to give hugs to friends and family who came. “But then as you get older, you realize how special of a place it is, and you realize how different it is from every other school. Sumner is just that much more great — it’s just that much more special.
“It’s been incredible to grow up here and in this community,” she said.