Thompson staff

Eisenhower athletic director Steve Thompson (left) has brought a cast of familiar names with him as he takes over as head football coach. Former head coach Drew Wagers (top), basketball assistant coach Mike Phillips (middle) and baseball head coach/radio commentator Kevin Hale (bottom) are three of those who will join him.

DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) -- Eisenhower's Steve Thompson has one goal as he tacks "head football coach" on to his athletic director duties on the city's South Side.

That goal? Fight the school's plummeting participation numbers with an all-out onslaught of positivity. With freshman-through-senior numbers dipping into the low 20s as times during last year's 0-9 season, Thompson has assembled a core of assistants who aren't only well known in the community, but known beacons of positive energy.


Kevin Hale, whose impassioned speeches to his baseball team when his life was threatened got more than 28,000 views on Facebook, is one of Thompson's additions. He was also the radio partner of DPS play-by-play man Scott Busboom on Talk 101 FM.

Basketball assistant Mike Phillips also joins the fold, not just as a man with a megawatt smile, but as the father of starting quarterback Brylan Phillips.

Former head coach Drew Wagers is also returning to the Panther staff as an assistant who will be focused chiefly on the offense. While at the helm of the program from 2013-2017 he helped rebuild the program and reached the playoffs twice.

Thompson said that two holdovers from Curtis Graham's staff will be Tim Seider and DJ Johnson.

In this extended WAND interview, Thompson discusses the following topics:


"Why does Steve Thompson want

to be head football coach?"


Adding Drew Wagers, Kevin Hale, Mike Phillips, Tim Seider, DJ Johnson


"They know who's real. Those are the kind of guys who the kids follow."


"What is Steve Thompson football?"


"What's your hope and vision for this program?"


On his attitude toward the potential merger between Eisenhwoer and MacArthur


"What's most fun to you about coaching?"


Growing up in Bement


His mentors at Bement and Millikin and later in his career


Kevin Hale to be designated pregame speech giver?