From walk-on to captain: Vern Thompson makes a difference

By on November 21, 2002

Every school has the story of an athlete who never gave up. The story of an athlete, who just comes to practice everyday, plays hard and waits for that chance.
Quinnipiac’s story comes from Vern Thompson.
Thompson was just recently named one of the Tri-Captains on the men’s basketball team. A senior, Thompson is the poster boy of never giving up as he has made the transition from a walk on player as a freshman to a captain as a senior.
“I am ready to play whatever role this team needs me to play,” Thompson said. “I think being a senior it helped me grow into the maturity of being a leader.”
Thompson is a local Connecticut product from Bridgeport who played his high school ball at St. Josephs in Trumbull, a well-respected program in the Tri-State area.
In his four years there, the team went to three state championship games and won one. He averaged 14 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assist in his years there.
“I learned a lot from my high school coach [Vito Montelli],” Thompson said. “Most important thing I learned though was how to play a role on the team and not always care about scoring but rather what does it take for the team to shine.”
After high school Thompson attended another top basketball program in Milford Academy. After his year there he was recruited by Albany and Binghamton but chose to try and walk on at Quinnipiac, which was already a Division I school.
Playing time was sparse for Thompson in his freshman year here as he saw action in only eight games. He continued to work hard though and sophomore year was given his first collegiate start.
“I always try and prepare myself to play so when I get that chance I am ready,” Thompson said. “My first start was against St. Francis N.Y., I remember I wasn’t exactly mentally ready to play cause I wasn’t expecting to start but I did and scored 14 points and seven rebounds.”
For his hard efforts Thompson was awarded a scholarship following his sophomore year, which saw him appear in 12 games with two starts.
“He deserved it,” coach Joe DeSantis said. “There are very few givens in life but one is definitely that Vern comes to practice every day and works his butt off.”
Last year Thompson’s game time nearly doubled as he saw action in 21 of Quinnipiac’s 30 games. Although not called upon to play a lot of minutes Thompson has come a long way from the eight games he played as a freshman
What is more overlooked in Thompson’s career here is that not only as he grown in his game and maturity, the program has grown as well going from a school that was ineligible to play in the post season his freshman year to nearly making the NCAA tournament last year.
“I have seen a lot here in three years,” Thompson said. “Freshman year we won 18 games then went through a disappointing sophomore year then there was last year so I like it that I have been a part of this rising program which I will always look back on that I help contribute to build.”
How can a player who does not play many minutes be a captain? Thompson knows it is all about dedication, heart and staying positive which are three things that not everyone has in them.
“I have to always maintain that energy through every practice and I just want to keep fighting through the long season and I need to keep everyone positive and working hard and if I do that I believe the rest of players will feed of that.”
Thompson should mature into a great leader on the team, as he is a guy with a lot of goals and aspirations in life. He plans to get his MBA and is thinking of law school. He also would like to get into the recording industry.
Maybe most importantly is his goal of giving back to his city of Bridgeport and help inner city kids get through life and get into college.
“A lot of those kids lack direction,” Thompson said. “I just want to help in after school programs or any youth programs to help them get through life.”
Quinnipiac opens the season on Nov. 23 verse nationally ranked Connecticut.


About P.J. Gradowski and James Prist