My Friend Ed

Ed Thomas Coaching

posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2019

My Friend Ed

Where are you now? Location, job, family status etc.

My wife and I are still living out in the country of Aplington. I am retired from A-P. I work for the Ed Thomas Family Foundation and do a bit of speaking. Our oldest son, wife, and two children live in Omaha and our youngest son, wife, and three children live in Le Mars.

What do people most commonly ask you about Ed?

A few people ask what he was really like. Some feel like they have a good understanding from reading the Sacred Acre. Most people that I talk to about Ed knew him in some way and we just reminisce about his inspiration, leadership, integrity, and all the good times together.

Other than FFF, what were some of Ed’s favorites?

Ed favored the Hawks, Yankees, and the NY Giants. His most frequent place to dine out was Pizza Hut. He enjoyed golf and playing cribbage. He loved Aplington-Parkersburg Schools and working with young people. Ed was patriotic and loved his country. He never forgot where he came from– What Cheer, IA. 

What is one funny trait or story you have of him?

When reminiscing, I often laugh about riding in a car with him. He was clairvoyant behind the wheel. We (coaches and friends) traveled many miles over the years going to games, clinics, and on film runs. Ed's focus would frequently shift from driving to strategizing about football or something that needed to be done at school. He multi-tasked before the term was popular. You never felt unsafe, you just felt like you needed to be a backseat driver. Anyone that has ever ridden in the car with him will have a humorous story about this trait of his.

What was his discipline style?

I can only describe his discipline style as– Ed could put his "spell" on you. Just by being around him people wanted to be better. That’s true for both adults and students. Others could see how he lived his life with such integrity, which helped create a high level of respect for him. He had high expectations. Many former students and athletes would say that they never wanted to let him down. He was the ultimate role model for building positive relationships with young people.

What is one parenting or coaching trait that you learned from him?

I learned that you can still discipline young people. If he was unhappy with a student’s behavior, he could chew them out hard. What a lot of people missed was when later in the day he would talk with them. He would let them know he cared and loved them. He had a way of emotionally connecting with young people. If you asked a lot of his former students, they would tell you, “Yeah, he chewed me out and I’m better today because of it.” The key to that teaching trait is to lead with love.

Can you share a story that someone shared with you about him that you had never known?

At Ed’s funeral, I was taken aback by the number of people from other towns that showed up and shared stories of Ed calling or sending them a hand-written letter of encouragement during an emotional time in their life. I never knew that he did that. That’s a special thing that touched a lot of folks he never really even knew.

We know Ed’s favorite sport was football– what is yours?

It's a tie between 2 sports. I love football and track & field. I also enjoy high school wrestling.

Do you think he’d have social media today?

When Ed got his flip phone he went nuts with it. It allowed him to instantly contact others. He was in contact with so many people and it really saved him time. Social media as we know it today- I’m not sure. If it would help him promote our school, communities, and young people then he would be all about it. If he did use social media, our technology coordinator would most likely have a second full-time job.

How does his legacy affect you in your life today?

Ed’s legacy has impacted me in a personal way, going back many years. He has had a huge influence on my teaching and coaching fundamentals. He never preached or lectured me, but he made me want to improve my character. I miss his leadership.

Any quote or verse that Ed always said to you?

"Every day you either get better or you get worse, you never stay the same.

Let’s get better today."

What do you hope the foundation accomplishes?

I hope the Ed Thomas Legacy Leadership Academies can inspire thousands of young people to be leaders in their schools and communities. I hope that these young people choose to live with character– that’s the legacy of Ed Thomas that we hope to carry on. The foundation reaches people all over the world. These are the people that support the ETFF and ARE the ETFF. The entire Thomas family is thankful and hopes this support and success can continue.

-Al Kerns