Co-Captain Michael Thompson ’20 has always had a lifelong love for football, having began the sport early on in grade school. Although he currently lives in Andover, Mass., Thompson grew up in Ohio and North Carolina with three older brothers in a family that revolved around football. In seventh grade, Thompson took up the position of quarterback, which he has continued at Andover since entering as a new Lower.
According to Thompson, the best part of football is the balance between the physical and mental games.
“I have always loved football; I think it is the greatest sport on Earth, and I have grown up in places where it is very big. My favorite thing about the sport is that it can be both so very physical but also incredibly mental at the same time,” said Thompson.
Playing at Andover differs from his past experiences in other parts of the country, according to Thompson, but he attributes the team’s success and adaptation to Head Coach Leon Modeste and his strong coaching ability.
Thompson said, “One of the main differences between football at Andover and in the Midwest and the South is that there is not as much time here to prepare during the summer for the season. Luckily, we have Coach Modeste, who is very experienced and not only knows the game of football, but also is great at building a team from a lot of new kids every year and in a very short time.”
Thompson not only is skilled physically as a quarterback but also has a strong mental game that helps him to stay focused, according to teammates Jon Krikorian ’21 and Sebastian Lipstein ’20.
Krikorian said, “He’s really good [as a quarterback]. He’s very smart and sees the field very well. He makes good judgement calls, and not only is he a good passer, but he’s also a good runner. He can run the ball, so he’s very versatile.”
“A couple games we had a couple of interceptions off of dropped passes, and Michael wasn’t really that phased. He was just moving on, so I think Michael has a really good ability of moving on and focusing on the next thing,” said Lipstein.
According to Krikorian and Lipstein, Thompson’s affable personality also has a positive impact on his leadership.
“His personality is just very outgoing, and he wants to be a part of a strong football program. Part of having a strong football program starts with the leadership of the team and not only the coaching staff but also the captains, the kids who lead the team. He knows that in order to be the best program we can be, he needs every aspect of the team, whether it’s leadership or actual talent, to be there,” said Krikorian.
“[His personality] makes the players want to play for him because they really like him. It’s the same way that I’m going to try hard for my parents, you just want to do well for them because you like that person and you respect that person,” said Lipstein.
According to Thompson, he makes sure to engage every player individual, in order to build up the team as a whole.
“A team is just a conglomerate of players and my favorite way to motivate the team is to motivate each and every player one at a time,” said Thompson.
Thompson’s devoted nature is what makes him such a meaningful part of the team, according to Krikorian.
Krikorian said, “He’s a strong leader partly because his main focus is to involve everyone in what he’s doing. That’s the main thing with him is he’s not afraid to just go up to someone. He’ll go up to people and just get to know them.”
Another notable aspect of Thompson is the energy that he brings to the team, according to Lipstein.
“Michael’s a really energetic person. He’s always getting amped up, jumping around. Sort of nods his head a lot. He gets really pumped up to music in the locker room. He’s always just chilling with his friends. He just has good camaraderie with his teammates. He’s a really likable guy,” said Lipstein.
Thompson is also skilled at communicating and connecting the team with the coaches according to Krikorian.
Krikorian said, “Sometimes coaches can’t always give a message to the team, such as bringing energy to practice. There’s only so much they can do. By putting that on the captains to get the team to bring more energy, it’s different coming from the captains because there’s a stronger connection between the captains and the players.”
According to Thompson, he hopes to lead the team from its current 1-3 record to a 4-3 record, which would include a win at the annual matchup against Phillips Exeter Academy at the end of the season.