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Thompson juggles basketball, 3.86 GPA despite ACL tears

VIDALIA — There’s something about playing through torn ACLs in both knees that tests a person’s focus and perseverance.

Vidalia High School’s Jewel Thompson is the epitome of the two characteristics.

Thompson, a junior center for the Lady Vikings basketball team, is not only playing this season with only one of her two ACLs repaired; she’s doing it while maintaining a 3.86 GPA.

Head coach Fred Marsalis said two failed knees gave him the green light to make Thompson the team manager, but Thompson had bigger things in mind.

“She keeps going,” Marsalis said. “She takes a licking and keeps on ticking. I just made her to team manager and that wasn’t good enough for her. She wanted to play.”

Thompson said she continues to play basketball despite her injuries because of the fun she has on the court.

“I had surgery on one of them and the other, I have to wear a brace,” Thompson said. “I keep playing because I like the sport.”

The hard work Thompson has put into rehabilitating her knees, is the same work she puts into keeping her grades up.

“In class, I get as much work done as I can and try to stay ahead so if I miss a day, I won’t miss much because I’m already ahead,” she said.

Marsalis said he is proud of Thompson’s hard work in the class room as he stresses academics to his players.

“Every Wednesday is study hall, because my goal is to have every kid on this squad academically eligible,” he said. “That they’re not only athletes, but they’re a member of the academic society here.”

Marsalis said Thompson is a model student athlete.

“She probably has one of the highest GPAs in the school,” Marsalis said.

Thompson said she is taking advanced classes, which includes AP English and Advanced math, a senior class.

“English is my hardest subject, but I have an A in it so its OK,” Thompson said. “Math comes easier to me. (Because I’m taking a senior class now), I’ll take pre-calculus, a college class, next year.”

Thompson’s advanced classes are also preparing her to take the ACT next year.

“I’m preparing to take it in March,” Thompson said. “My teachers help us prepare for the ACT, and I’ll go to the ACT prep classes.”

Thompson said she has three colleges she would love to attend: LSU, Tulane and Xavier.

“I want to go to medical school,” she said.

Thompson and the Lady Vikings will head to Jefferson County High School for the Miss-Lou Hoops tournament to play against Natchez High School Friday.

 

Vidalia High School junior Jewel Thompson works on shooting free throws during practice. Thompson hopes to go medical school after she graduates high school. (BRITTNEY LOHMILLER | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT)
Vidalia High School junior Jewel Thompson works on shooting free throws during practice. Thompson hopes to go medical school after she graduates high school. (BRITTNEY LOHMILLER | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT)