Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Adapted sports searches for new coach

The University of Alabama’s adapted athletics department will soon begin the search to replace a head coach who won two national championships in two different sports.

Miles Thompson, who coached both the men’s wheelchair basketball and the wheelchair tennis teams to national titles in 2013 will leave to become the coach of Great Britain’s national women’s basketball team at the end of the basketball season.

Thompson became the first coach of the men’s wheelchair basketball team when it was formed in 2006, and his team won its first national championship this year. He helped launch the wheelchair tennis program this year as well, also serving as its first head coach.

Last weekend, his first-year team won the team national championship, finishing four points ahead of the University of Texas-Arlington at the national tournament held at the NorthRiver Yacht Club in Tuscaloosa.

“Of course, it was a hard decision to leave,” Thompson said. “You want to be able to follow these student athletes through this process, and I won’t be able to [do] that with some of them, and that is what makes it difficult.”

However, he will see the journey from beginning to end for players such as Ryan Hynes. Hynes has played for the men’s wheelchair basketball team for the past four years, and now the senior and Thompson will share their final year together.

“I have had him as a coach for so long, and I respect him so much,” Hynes said. “I just couldn’t imagine playing for anyone else besides Miles at this point.”

While Thompson looks forward to the challenge of the Paralympics, he still second-guesses himself about leaving.

“I cherish this opportunity because I want to compete on the highest level. I want to compete for Paralympic gold. That’s the pinnacle,” Thompson said. “But I still on a daily basis say, ‘What am I doing? This is a great job here.’ But I’m an egomaniac coach that believes I can get it done on the highest level.”

Adapted Athletics Director Brent Hardin will now begin the search to find two separate coaches to fill the void left by Thompson, which will not be an easy task, Hardin said.

“As soon as we get permission from the University, we will advertise, and we will see who applies,” Hardin said. “I can think of some candidates that we feel really good about, but we will just have to wait and see.”

Hardin said the search committee will have more time to find a new tennis coach, but it hopes to have its new basketball coach by the end of the season.

“Whoever they hire will be top-notch,” Thompson said. “This is a destination job for any young coach, or really, any basketball coach.”

Thompson said he knows his last season will be tough, both physically and mentally, but his departure will never affect his focus in a game.

“My focus will always be on the game, but it will be difficult outside of the game,” Thompson said. “I will be mindful of things when we are on the bus, laughing or when we are breaking bread together. Those are the moments that you really cherish.”

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