For 26 years Thompson has taught 'a game for life'

  • Naperville Central girls golf coach Jane Thompson shares a moment with Redhawks golfers Becki Zhang (rear) and Ava Lyons.

    Naperville Central girls golf coach Jane Thompson shares a moment with Redhawks golfers Becki Zhang (rear) and Ava Lyons. Photo courtesy of Lifetouch

 
 
Updated 10/2/2019 5:42 PM

Jane Thompson learned early on that golf is an equal-opportunity sport.

"Any age can be in the same foursome and any ability can be in the same foursome and any gender can be in same foursome and you can enjoy the game. It is a game for life," said Thompson, Naperville Central's girls golf coach.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

She'll be finding fairways for the rest of hers, but even under the best scenario -- Redhawks representation at the Class 2A tournament Oct. 18-19 -- Thompson is in the final weeks of a 26-year career as a head coach. Next spring she will retire after 34 years as a history teacher.

She first took a Naperville Central golf team to a dual meet in 1991 as a volunteer assistant with the boys frosh-soph squad. The Redhawks faced Downers Grove North at Downers Grove Golf Club.

Her last dual meet was Sept. 26 -- against the Trojans at Downers Grove Golf Club.

"It's just a weird symmetry to this whole thing," Thompson said.

Also linear progression.

Naperville Central's best round in her four state appearances was 338 in 1997 when the Redhawks finished fourth. Their 2018 regional score of 337 didn't get them into sectionals.

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In the 2018 DuPage Valley Conference match Naperville Central established a program record of 325. On Tuesday medalist Emma Lim and the Redhawks tied that score to place third in Thompson's final DVC championship.

"The whole growth of both the numbers of teams and the quality of play has just been so phenomenal to watch. A lot of the teams in this area truly are similar to Division II golf at the college level," Thompson said.

"It's no longer a shock that the girls programs, team-wise, have a lot of the same scores that the boys do. That's what's been so fun to reflect back on, is where the girls programs were in the 1990s and where they are now."

The pride of Lebanon, Indiana -- she and 1960s Purdue basketball star Rick Mount -- in high school Thompson was among the early beneficiaries of Title IX. She played interscholastic golf, volleyball, basketball and tennis before attending Indiana University.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

As a kid her parents took Jane and her three older brothers to Ulen Country Club in Lebanon. They'd make a day of it.

"It was always something we did as a family," she said.

She created that bond as a coach, praising supportive parents and maintaining contact with a generation of golfers. It's not just coincidence that Thompson studied foreign policy and United States history at Indiana and some of her former golfers work in the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency.

A game for life indeed.

"It's a wealth of riches that I've been a part of," she said. "It's just been great to watch."

Working man

Maybe it's his Oklahoma background, but Westmont football coach Dan Woulfe still retains a rugged, full-time summer job. For 12 years he's worked for a landscaping company in Big Rock.

He's done that since he got out of the Air Force. He was a JTAC -- joint terminal attack controller -- for the 101st Airborne.

Woulfe maintains a Class A commercial driver's license, a holdover from when he worked construction.

He teaches physical education, driver's education and health at Westmont.

The 41-year-old called himself a jack of all trades, master of none. Reminded that probably wouldn't fly in the Air Force, Woulfe reconsidered.

"You have to be pretty good for that job, that's for sure," he said.

Ice Man author

Author, Emmy Award winner and head of the research library for NFL Films, Chris Willis will discuss his latest book Oct. 9 at Wheaton College.

Willis will give a free lecture on "Red Grange: The Life and Legacy of the NFL's First Superstar" at 7 p.m. Oct. 9 in Wheaton College's Todd M. Beamer Center. A reception starts at 6 p.m.

Willis won a 2016 Emmy for HBO's "Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Houston Texans." Here, he details the career of the "Wheaton Ice Man" in full, from football phenom to ambassador.

Willis said he'll also have a December event at College of DuPage surrounding the annual Red Grange Bowl. This newspaper salutes Grange by presenting the Daily Herald DuPage County Red Grange Football Captain.

For details on Willis' lecture, contact Emily Langan at (630) 752-5070 or emily.langan@wheaton.edu.

doberhelman@dailyherald.com

Twitter: <URL destination="https://twitter.com/doberhelman1">@doberhelman1

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