It’s a slam dunk! The Culpeper County High School boys’ varsity basketball team celebrates

James Thompson

Fast approaching the 50th anniversary of Culpeper County High School’s singular State Title in basketball, head coach James Thompson reminisces on his career at CCHS while simultaneously looking towards the future of the program.

Thompson is only the fourth coach in the school’s entire history since 1968 – filling the big shoes of his predecessors, John Averett, Simon Hill, and most recently, Billy Thornhill.

Coach Thompson is a trailblazer, just as those coaches who stood on the sidelines before him. Tenured in his 15 th season, with impressive end to end stats, Thompson has not lost sight of what matters most – the complete student athlete. Thompson says he expects his students to “come with the four A’s – academics, attitude (positive), ability (confidence), and accountability (be reliable and responsible).”

A former student athlete himself, having played for George Mason University, those same values carried him.

His four A’s propel the impressive stats. During his leadership of CCHS Boys Varsity Basketball there have been 225 wins, four state tournament appearances, 12 regional tournament appearances, nine district/conference titles and nine Coach of the Year awards. Sixteen of his student athletes have gone on to play at the collegiate level, with six of those players voted District Player of the Year, and another five scoring 1,000 career points, a metric most players never reach. Two students played minor and international leagues.

Coach Thomspon effortlessly recites names, dates and achievements because he invests 100% in each of his students. As important to his team's winning is his commitment to them. A good majority of that commitment is living by his own words of wisdom that he gives his players, “Don’t put limitations on yourself, you get out what you put in.”

He also gives credit to coaches Mike Dayton and Rodney Stewart, as they all align in this same energy.

He is realistic in that while not everyone will carry a 4.0 GPA, he says everyone can do their best. He emphasizes education and says “C’s can still get degrees,” encouraging all of his students.

His most memorable moments have been seeing his teams advance to regional and state tournaments.

He’s also quite awestruck with his students’ resilience. He admits the pandemic hurt their program.

Covid changed their entire landscape, from practices to participation. The determined students still made it to regional semi-finals. Although the pandemic cloud still lingers, with player development and skill level a bit behind where he’d like to see it, he says his athletes are recruitable and skillfully ready to play at advanced levels.

He envisions the future of the program with CCHS being considered one of the better established programs in the region/state. He hopes to see the program grow and of course, more success stories for his student athletes.

Thompson’s personal goals intersect with his professional goals.

“I hope to continue to grow in all facets of life.” 

He’s been approached a few times about making the move to coaching or officiating at the collegiate level. As for any definitive on those major moves, he only says “we’ll see…”

He hopes he makes his mark simply by being organic and genuine, by being the best Coach Thompson he can be.

In addition to coaching at CCHS, Thompson is a physical education teacher at Epiphany Catholic School and a personal trainer at PATH Recreation and Fitness. He enjoys spending time with his wife and watching his favorite athlete, his son Trey, play various sports. And it goes without saying, he is a big college basketball and NBA fan.

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