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The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
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Michael Lozada
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
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Family is MVP for Hassan Thompson ’19

Hassan Thompson ’19 has been a key player for the Pioneer football team. Recently, he earned national recognition for his play earlier this month. Photo by Helena Gruensteidl.

Grinnell Football’s recent 15-6 win against Trinity Bible College made headlines for being the first win since 2015. However, what few people know is that the Pioneers were down by 0-6 at halftime, and the comeback didn’t start until Hassan Thompson ’19 made a game-changing block in the third quarter. From that point on, the Pioneers didn’t look back.

“It was definitely a game changer. I’ve honestly felt like [the block] was the moment throughout the whole game,” Thompson said.

Thompson’s crucial play subsequently earned him a spot on the “Team of the Week.” Thompson admits that he enjoys the recognition but also doesn’t forget that football is a team sport.

“It’s nice to be acknowledged. It has my name on it, but I think most importantly it represents our school, the progresses we have [made] over the year and how this program is moving forward.”

The win has created a very positive atmosphere in the locker room.

“It’s [good] to know what it feels like to win and what the [necessary] preparations are. Right now, it’s a different culture. Guys are bonding very well, and we’re not just out there freelancing.”

As deeply passionate about football and sports as he may be, Thompson is also very focused in academics, especially his major, economics. A personal goal of his is to keep his GPA above 3.2 for the rest of his time at the College. Many students shy away from varsity athletics because of the rigorous time commitment, but for Thompson, being on the football team actually motivates him to organize his schedule more efficiently.

“It’s kind of easier to focus during the football season. … The less time available just makes me prioritize all the time I have to do my work.”

The pressure of being a student-athlete is already hard enough for many students. Yet for Thompson, the responsibilities don’t stop there. He is one of a few student-parents at Grinnell, and is living off campus with his wife and his son. With his wife, Grace, closing in on getting a degree from Iowa Valley Community College and his son, Hassan Jr, turning two this September, Thompson’s little home is, as he said, “doing as lovely as ever.”

Ever since Thompson’s wife and son moved to Grinnell with him at the end of his first year, he has lived every day feeling inspired and supported by his family.

“Honestly, it’s pretty cool being able to go home and see my motivation every day and not having to worry about other extra things.”

Grace and Hassan Jr. are rarely strangers in Grinnell. They are usually spotted with Thompson, studying together in Noyce Science Center. The Thompsons also have a very organized schedule, in which Grace attends classes on Tuesday and Thursday while her husband does so on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They have rarely faced any scheduling conflicts, except when finals come around. Yet even in such cases, the Thompsons still have a great support system from back home.

“Last year, [Grace’s] mom came and got the baby and [took care] of him for the finals week. So we were both able to focus on studying for our exams,” Thompson said.

Balancing three distinct roles simultaneously is never an easy task, and his peers marvel at how he does it, asking questions about how he manages everything. Still, Thompson never lets that stop him, instead embracing his duties as a student, athlete and father.

“I love the fact these experiences [show me] that if I can overcome these obstacles now, then how much easier it would be when I’m in my career field. And I’m not going to expect [anybody] to have a pity on me just because of my situation.”

Needless to say, Thompson always credits his family whenever he does anything. His opinions about various topics may change from one conversation to another, but the love for his family never does. When asked about his wife and son, Thompson says, “It’s a blessing.”

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