Aaron Thomas, son of former coach Ed Thomas, will never forget June 24, 2009 when his father was shot and killed by a former Aplington-Parkersburg High School student.
Although time has passed since his father’s death, Aaron has decided to continue his father’s legacy and his unwavering passion of coaching students by speaking to educators around the nation including those at Adel-DeSoto-Minburn.
At the Friday presentation , Aaron, who is the head basketball coach, athletic director and director of student services at Aplington-Parkersburg High School, discussed his father’s love for the school, community and his family and how that impacted him growing up.
“I realized in third grade that my dad didn’t have a job, he didn’t have a career, he had a passion,” Aaron said. “He loved what he did and that rubbed off on me. I wanted what my father had and wanted kids to call me coach someday.”
His father’s legacy to make sure each kid mattered was another point Aaron drove home.
“My dad built relationships and cared about people,” he said. “My dad didn’t care if you were a Division 1 or Division 3 team. He didn’t care if you were the richest or poorest. He invested in each student and made them feel like they mattered.”
He added teachers as a whole have a responsibility to be the best they can for their students.
“As you get into classroom of 22 people, every hour of every day (should) be your absolute best to prepare those people and make sure they want to be a part of who you are (as a teacher),” Aaron said. “It starts with you.”
Aaron said his father, as well as mother, led by example, especially after an EF5 tornado hit Parkersburg on May 25, 2008 where it destroyed a third of the town in its wake. “As soon as the tornado hit, my mom who has been a volunteer EMT for 17 years, starts going door to door to make sure everyone is okay,” Aaron said. “She had the skills and the mindset to serve the community. My dad, who was an extreme optimist almost to a fault, was crushed to see the school like that, (but) on May 26 his optimism came back.
“He told me that it’s real easy to be a leader when everything is going your way, but who you are as a person is revealed when you are faced with adversity.”
Aaron related that quote to A-D-M educators stating that they should give their students 100 percent of themselves each and every day. “My perspective of A-D-M is there’s a sense of pride and community,” he said. “I challenge you to ask the question ‘who has that toughness in them?’ Everybody wants to be around somebody with a positive attitude.”
A positive attitude was a key characteristic Aaron said his father encompassed until the day of his death and is something that everyone-teachers, community members and students-should continue to have each day.
“Life is 10 percent what happens and 90 percent of how we choose to respond,” he said. “I could be bitter and angry-most people would say that’s okay-but the fact won’t change. My father will still be gone. “We learn from what has happened and move on, but we don’t forget.”