Dedication to details, hard work result in future at Tech for Thompson

Before the ceremony in which he’d sign a letter of intent to continue his education and his baseball career at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Korey Thompson was making sure everything was right. The banner for Bryant’s 2012 State championship was straight, the trophies and plaques he and his Bryant Hornets teammates had earned were laid out just so.

Every detail was taken care of.

And that’s so revealing about the senior second baseman. Thompson has made it second nature to sweat the details and, as a result of that and his determination and hard work, he got to Friday with a college scholarship in hand.

It was not a given. Baseball is a sport in which a 6-foot-7 Adam Wainwright and a 5-9 Dustin Pedroia can both become a star performer at a high level but it’s still most often a taller mountain to climb for a shorter player.

“I just had to work hard at everything because I know sometimes people looked at my size and thought I wasn’t going to do anything,” acknowledged Thompson, the son of Jason and Stephanie Thompson. “That just made me work even harder.

“I’ve always been one to work hard no matter what,” he stated. “Ever since starting playing baseball when I was 4, I was smaller than everybody. It’s been that way my entire career so I just felt that I had to push myself to stay at the top with everybody else. So that’s what I did.”

For all those who may have doubted along the way . . .

“Every person I’ve talk to about Korey loves his tenacity and his work ethic,” commented Hornets head coach Kirk Bock. “Obviously, defensively, his skills are good.

“That dude just keeps on going and that’s what has impressed a lot of people,” he added. “That’s one of the things that Tech really liked about him, and with every school I talked to about him ­— just the way he goes about his business as hard as he can.

“He knows how to play the game physically but he also knows how to play it mentally,” the coach continued. “He knows what to do and when to do it and, you know, now a days, kids don’t know how to do that. Korey’s got that knack. I think he’ll have a good career at Tech.”

Thompson said he was contacted by Hendrix, Ouachita Baptist University and the University of Arkansas at Monticello, including a last-minute call for UAM earlier in the week.

“I felt at home at Arkansas Tech,” he explained. “I liked the atmosphere around there. I liked the coaches. Knowing Coach (Mark) Jelks (a former assistant at Bryant) was a big thing for me. I loved the atmosphere around the campus. The campus is awesome. I fell in love with it as soon as I got there.”

It also helped that a couple of Bryant teammates were on the Wonder Boys’ roster, Marcus Wilson and Nate Rutherford.

“That was a big thing,” Thompson related. “Whenever I went up there and visited, I stayed with them that night and they took me around, showed me around and we went and hung out at some of the players’ houses. It was really fun.”

Bock doesn’t see a red-shirt year in the works for the senior.

“I think defensively, he’ll be in the line-up immediately,” he said. “They may do kind of like we’ve done some guys before, put them in defensive situations late in the game. And, as soon as his offense comes around, I think he’ll be an everyday guy for them.”

Regarding his classroom work, Thompson said, “I want to start in Kinesiology. I thought about Physical Education but I looked at it and I wanted to do a little more. I think Kinesiology is the way I want to go. I want to be a coach, maybe a trainer. Either one. Hopefully, I’ll be a coach.”

One thing’s for certain, Thompson knows how to win. He was a member of the Hornets’ 2012 Class 7A State championship team and the 2013 State semifinalist while earning all-conference honors. He played for the 2013 Senior American Legion Zone champion Bryant Black Sox, which finished as runner-up in the State and was selected for the Xtrainnings showcase.

In 2012, he played for the Black Sox team that won a Zone championship and finished runner-up at State. In 2011, he contributed to a Babe Ruth 15-year-old team that won State and finished third in Regionals as well as contributing to a Junior Legion Zone champion, which finished third at State.

The Babe Ruth 14-year-old team he played with in 2010 was State runner-up then won the Southwest Regional championship and finished fifth at the Babe Ruth World Series. That came after a 13-year-old State Babe Ruth State title in 2009 that also included a third-place at Regionals.

With those Babe Ruth and Legion teams, Korey played for his dad and his uncle Jimmy Parker. He talked about the success of the teams he’s played for, saying, “In high school, it was working hard and never stopping. And with my dad and my Uncle Jimmy, we were always successful because we did the little things right. We bunted when we needed and got the bunts down. We played good defense, had good pitching. Sometimes we didn’t hit as well but we were always playing good defense and bunting, moving people over to get them in. Whatever it took.”

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