Thompson joins elite group

Published 5:55 pm Monday, April 24, 2023

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Chocowinity native Rosie Thompson took her place among North Carolina’s greatest athletes Saturday night in Raleigh as she and 14 others were inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

Thompson joined former UNC standout and current Vanderbilt men’s basketball coach Jerry Stackhouse, current Tennessee men’s coach and Hickory native Rick Barnes, former NFL lineman Jason Brown and former North Carolina State women’s basketball standout Trudi Lacey in the Class of 2023.

“It’s still hard for me to believe,” Thompson said. “It’s such a great honor and very humbling to be part of such an impressive group, both the current class and those who are already in. It’s very hard to describe and it still hasn’t fully sunk in yet.”

Thompson grew up in Blounts Creek in the 1970’s and went on to a standout basketball career at Chocowinity High School under coach Neil Titus.

She was the valedictorian of the Class of ’75, but never thought about playing college basketball until then-ECU football coach Pat Dye spoke at the CHS athletics banquet.

An ECU admissions person came to her school the following week and arranged enough grant money for Thompson to enroll.

Even then, the path to stardom wasn’t smooth as Coach Catherine Bolt wouldn’t guarantee her a spot on the team.

“I can’t really blame her because I was 5’9 and maybe 120 lbs.,” Thompson said. I spent the summer playing pickup games with my teammates and they told her I could play. That’s how I made the team.”

She went on to score 2,352 points before the three-point line was invented and totaled 1,183 rebounds. Both are program records 40 years later.

Thompson played one year for the St. Louis franchise in the Women’s Professional Basketball League before Northern Nash HS in Rocky Mount hired her to teach physical science and coach girls basketball and track.

She came back to ECU to earn her Master’s in Health/P.E. while working in the admissions office and serving as a women’s basketball assistant coach. She took the head coaching job for three seasons before moving into the senior women’s administrative role until she retired in 2014.

There was plenty of purple and gold in the house Saturday night as athletic director Jon Gilbert, executive associate athletic director J.J. McLamb, along with several former assistant coaches, players and collogues and multiple family members.

“It was wonderful to see everyone, some of whom I hadn’t seen in a while,” Thompson said. “It was a very well-organized event and an impressive facility. I loved the family feel of the event and am amazed that I’m part of such an impressive group.”