Sports teams will often take up the moniker of “family” to describe the bond and loyalty they have for their coaches and fellow teammates.
Mountlake Terrace Hawks wrestling coach Grant Thompson is saying goodbye to his wrestling family for the sake of his own literal one.
Thompson resigned from his post at Mountlake Terrace High School at the end of this past high school wrestling season last month in order to move his family to southwest Washington–closer to the medical facility his two-year-old daughter Hadley goes to for regular physical therapy visits.
Hadley was born in the spring of 2015 with fibular hemimelia, a birth defect that prevents the growth of the fibula bone. “It never developed, so there had to be an amputation,” Thompson explained.
Hadley gets physical therapy care at Shriners Hospital for Children in Portland. Thompson, his wife Susan and their two children will live in the Vancouver area in order to be close to the facility.
Hadley, who turns three this month, is now fitted with a prosthetic and is able to walk, something she wasn’t able to do before. “It gives me strength too just being able to see her now that she can walk,” Thompson said.
Thompson calls the past three years “an interesting journey” as his and his wife were tasked with raising a newborn with a rare defect.
“It was pretty heavy,” Thompson confessed. “But we worked through it. I think my wrestling background probably helped… it gives you a sense of strength and focusing on the process, looking into the future and trying to stay positive.”
Hadley has had her prosthetic leg for almost a year now and Thompson has noticed a change not only in his spirit but in the responses of others.
“It’s not very often you see a two-year-old with one leg. That’s unique,” Thompson said. “It was an adjustment period at first as a parent. You get a lot of stares, but over time you just kind of get over it. Now it’s the opposite – now she’s walking with her little prosthetic and people are like, ‘ah, that’s cute.’”
With the prosthetic, life is becoming a little easier for Hadley and the growing Thompson family. Grant, who is hoping to start his own business, and Susan will be welcoming their third child into this world this month.
“It’s really dang good timing too because with the new one coming, Susan, she’s going to be super busy,” Thompson added. “So the fact that Hadley is now a little more independent is going to help us out.”
While the reason for resigning from the Mountlake Terrace coaching job made the decision fairly easy, it still didn’t come without some sorrow for Thompson.
“If I could have, I’d have stayed at Terrace forever,” he said. “I really enjoyed coaching here for the past five years. It’s sad to leave, but I think it’s time. Family comes first.”
“That’s a hard part about coaching; there’s never really a good time to leave,” Thompson added.
Putting the needs of his family above the desire to coach right now, Thompson hinted that when the time is right he would like to get back to leading a high school wrestling program.
“I’ll probably get back into the sport again someday,” he concluded.
–By Doug Petrowski