CONWAY – Former Carvers Bay High School head football coach and current Conway High School assistant football coach James “Nate” Thompson will be inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame at the organization’s 29th awards banquet at the Greenville Convention Center on July 25.
Thompson is best known for coaching Carvers Bay from 2000 to 2018, winning 164 games and appearing in five state championship games, winning two of them in 2002 and 2006.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be chosen,” Thompson said. “A lot of coaches go through their whole coaching career and never get a shot at being in the hall of fame…it kind of humbles you a little bit when you realize it’s rare that you might get in.”
Thompson’s coaching career started in 1980 when he was the head coach of Myrtle Beach High School’s B-Team, and he was then an assistant coach for the school’s JV team from 1981 to 1983. He also coached track and wrestling while with the Seahawks.
From 1983 to 1998, Thompson coached the defensive line and then became the defensive coordinator for the Conway High School football team, and he also coached wrestling and track while with the Tigers.
Conway High School athletic director Jason Cox, who played under Thompson at the school, couldn’t be more excited for one of his former mentors.
“Coach T’s an amazing educator, coach, person, and he had a tremendous stand at Carvers Bay and did an outstanding job with those kids there,” Cox said. “As far as Conway goes, his past two years here he’s done an outstanding job. Not only is he a great coach to our student-athletes, he’s also a great mentor to our younger coaches.”
From 1998 to 1999, he was the head football coach at Choppee High School, which was his first head football coaching job.
When Choppee merged with Pleasant Hill High School in 2000 to form Carvers Bay High School, he was the coach of the Bears for 19 years before returning to Conway High School as an assistant football coach in 2019, where he currently coaches.
“There’s a lot of guys in coaching, but there’s not a lot of guys who make coaching part of their community building,” Carvers Bay athletic director Jeff Mezzatesta said. “Coach T has always been a community builder. He’s just a genuine, good person. We’ve been really blessed at Carvers Bay to have some of the best coaches represent us.”
Mezzatesta also gave a lot of credit to Thompson for helping lay the groundwork for Carvers Bay athletics after the two schools merged.
“You got to know the people down there, and the people were really close, like a family-type atmosphere,” Thompson said. “The community just kind of rallied around you and the school did. It’s not a big, big school, but it’s just that the people and the kids really love football and they got behind you and they made it worthwhile.”
This is not Thompson’s first hall of fame induction, as he was inducted into the South Carolina Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2019.
Thompson is also not the first Carvers Bay coach to be inducted into a South Carolina coaching hall of fame, as former Bears basketball coach Barry Triplett was inducted into both the SCACA Hall of Fame and the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Thompson also had the honor of coaching the South All-Star team in Myrtle Beach during the annual North-South All-Star game in 2018.
Thompson’s advice for those just getting started as a varsity head coach is to learn from the “old heads” who have been coaching there for a while and get to know the community and the kids.
“All the X’s and O’s are great, but Jimmy’s and Joe’s are what you really need, and you need to have a community that doesn’t mind standing behind you,” Thompson said.