A turning point, so to speak.
Tom is a sophomore who started at quarterback at Ponderosa High School, a 5A program in Parker, Colorado. Tom set out this year to prove that he has what it takes to be a legitimate high school starter and a solid collegiate prospect. He did just that last season starting every game for the Mustangs in 2009. So what is the big deal? Today is his last day at the school. For a high school sophomore, that is a very big deal.
Tom’s father Jim owns a second home in the Phoenix, Arizona area which is about to become the family’s first home. The house in Franktown, CO will go up for sale soon after the Thornton’s move out and head to Arizona. Almost everyone can understand that in this economy a lot of shrewd business people like Mr. Thornton are downsizing, consolidating, and cutting back expenses to keep their heads above water. Jim had sold several cars he had collected during more prosperous times as a safety measure for what looks to be a longer ride in this economy than was projected.
When asked about his perspectives regarding the change, Jim said, “Obviously moving is a big decision for our family. We discussed it, prayed about it and did what we thought was best for everyone, no matter how hard it is. Sometimes you only have one shot at hitting the goal, we understand the risks and the possible upside. If Tom keeps doing was he’s doing, we’ve got faith that it will work out well for our family.”
It is time to move on for the Thornton’s and tomorrow they hit the road, Tom Thornton in tow.
Thornton is headed to Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, Arizona and will compete for the QB job for the Padres who made it to the Arizona state football championships last season. Their quarterback graduates this May creating a competitive opportunity in the Padres roster. A seemingly nice coincidence. But Jim Thornton knew that changes were needed and opportunities were available. The family was moving and the time came to look for a new school at which the young QB could flourish in “Mind, Body and Spirit”. Marcos de Niza was the choice.
About six weeks ago Tom Thornton told his football coach at “Pondo”, Randy Huff, that he was moving to Arizona. Coach Huff had to have felt a hole in his stomach as his football team has had its challenges over the last few years. His Mustang football team has been stuck in mediocrity from a 2003 state championship and continuous state playoff berths to now an average program with many questions. From a coaches perspective, Thornton was a bright spot, one of the best rated QB’s in the state. He was a ticket out of the hole that his team has slipped into. An interesting note; Tom’s dad Jim was his quarterback coach at Ponderosa. He resigned to move on as well. So Coach Huff had to swallow double hard when the “Thornton’s” quit Ponderosa High School altogether.
Tom Thornton is, if you pardon the dirty word around school administrators, a “transfer”. And now the voices bellow through the rumor mill.
“It’s a football move.”
“No, dad has to move so Tom has to go.”
“They are running from Pondo just to play football at a better football program.”
“I hear he is going to a better school.”
“Dad has to sell the house and Tommy has to go with the family.”
“I think it is b…s…t.”
“If it were my son, I’d do the same thing.”
“I wish them well.”
“Pondo is sunk without Tommy.”
“Pondo is better off without them.”
Tom Thornton has heard them all over the last several weeks. He has one strength coach who has tried to make his life in the school as hard as possible. He has other coaches who hug him as he walks the weight room and the hallways. Coach Huff has been supportive and friendly. In the Colorado High School Activities Association Policy Manual this is what would be called a “bona fide move”. Teammates have mixed feelings. The fact is that none of it matters much. As of today, Tom Thornton will transition from a Mustang to a Padre.
The transfer for Tom is simple. “It is time to move on. Marcos de Niza is a place where I can prepare to play at the next level…get a great education and be with my family.” What about the folks at Pondo? “It is hard to leave friends, step out of the comfort zone and move from home. It is what it is and I’m ready for the change and the challenge.”
Tom Thornton is all business right now…going to school, studying and working his tail off in the weight room and on the track. He has gone from a season ending weight in the high 170’s to 199 lbs. in just a few months. His speed and strength have increased substantially. Simply put, Tom Thornton is well into his collegiate development. In football terms, another ten pounds of muscle mass and Tom Thornton will be “a stud”. Tom has taken full advantage of the ProspecTRAK developmental program and he is walking through the door as a ProspectFIT collegiate recruit.
Is this transfer a football move? Is this transfer academic? Is it a family necessity? The answer is “yes”! In a time where transfers go under extreme scrutiny by the state high school athletic associations, Tom Thornton and his family will be under the microscope. They will be labeled and some opposing team(s) will cry “foul” if Tom does the damage he is perfectly capable of inflicting on his opponents. He will have to do the fire walk through the gauntlet that has been laid down for a transfer these days which, to this reporter, is a complete violation of the supposed purpose of educators. That purpose…to do what is best for the student-athlete. In the world of high school athletics the rules to protect the football coach and the school go well beyond the best interest of the athlete and the rights of the family to choose what is best for their son or daughter.
In the meantime, Tom Thornton is a strong young man in every aspect of his student athleticism. He will be just fine.