Kickapoo High School football coach Kurt Thompson will hang up his whistle.
Thompson met with members of the Chiefs football team Friday morning to announce his decision to retire from teaching and coaching at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. Springfield Public Schools Athletic Director Randy Stange confirmed Thompson’s pending retirement.
Thompson said the meeting with the football players wasn’t easy, but he believes the Chiefs will eventually process the news and respond well.
“I think some of them are disappointed, some of them are not happy with me. Change is always difficult,” Thompson said.
Thompson had two different periods coaching football at Kickapoo. His second stint spanned the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Kickapoo won 62 games and lost 34 in Thompson’s first nine-year stint as head coach.
Thompson left Kickapoo to coach Republic, where the Tigers were 24-38 from 2007 to 2012. Republic school officials opted not to renew Thompson as football coach. He spent two years teaching physical education before coach Joel Wells left Kickapoo to coach at Harrison, Arkansas in 2015.
Thompson previously served as Kickapoo’s coach from 1998 to 2006. His career also includes stints at Webb City and Republic. He retained all of Wells’ assistants on his staff when he returned to Kickapoo in 2015.
Thompson said he examined his career status at the end of the 2016 season, in which Kickapoo went 9-2 and reached its district championship game in the Class 6 playoffs.
“I was much closer than I thought (to retirement). I’m kind of there to where I realized I was eligible to retire, so I decided to go ahead and take that next step,” Thompson said.
Thompson isn’t decided on what he will do when the academic year expires at the end of June and his retirement goes into effect, but he intends to spend time away from football with his wife and two daughters.
“I’ve got enough stuff going on that can keep me busy,” Thompson said. “I love the game, I love being around kids. That’s the part that I’ll miss.”
Thompson was 73-12 in seven seasons at Webb City, winning state championships in 1992 and 1993. He was only 23 when he was hired to replace Jerry Kill, who went on to coach the University of Minnesota.
Thompson was a 2011 inductee into the Missouri Football Coaches Hall of Fame.
In his final two seasons at Kickapoo, the Chiefs went 20-3 and reached the Class 6 playoff semifinals in 2015.
“I walked into a great situation here for two years and enjoyed every minute of it,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s career coaching record stands at 180-87.