Thompson Kick Starts Life
On November 14, 2009, Dr. Emmet C (Tom) Thompson II kicked his way into the record books. At age 61, he became the oldest football player in NCAA history and the oldest NCAA football player to score a point when he kicked the PAT (Point After Touchdown) in the second quarter of the game between Austin College and Trinity University. Thompson details his remarkable accomplishment in his inspiring autobiography, Kick Start (Carpenter’s Son Publishing).
Thompson had the opportunity to inspire people from college students to retirees during a recent book signing held at his alma mater, Austin College in Sherman, Texas, a small town located about an hour north of Dallas. He will follow that event by attending the National Religious Broadcasters Proclaim16 International Christian Media Convention, which is being held Feb. 23-26 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville. Thompson, who is considered a standard-bearer for a generation that is redefining the entire concept of ‘retirement age,’ will be meeting with media and industry leaders during the Proclaim16 conference to discuss his book, Kick Start, and to encourage people of all ages to grab life with both hands.
“Each day approximately 6,000 Americans turn 65, the traditional age at which people clean out their desk, accept a gold watch from the company and head for the rocking chair,” Thompson says. “But we are witnessing a movement that is changing the face of the nation, and ultimately the world. The boomer generation that is approaching retirement age is more well-educated, healthier, and more motivated than any previous generation in American history. They have a tremendous amount of work experience and life skills that can provide a multitude of opportunities. If my story says anything, it is that it is never too late to re-imagine what you want your life to be.”
Thompson’s late-in-life college football career was neither the beginning nor the end of his claim to fame. During his extraordinary life, Thompson (a 9th degree black belt Tae Kwon Do grandmaster) has worked out with Chuck Norris, partied with Elvis, borrowed money from the mob (and lived to tell about it), married a beauty queen and had a personal encounter with God. But while he has earned his share of success and accolades, Thompson is the first to admit that he’s experienced more than his share of spectacular failures along the way; professionally, financially and personally.
Born into an affluent and privileged, yet dysfunctional family, Thompson was married and divorced four times before meeting and marrying Teresa, to whom he has been happily married for more than 25 years. He made and lost several fortunes in the volatile Texas real estate market before finally deciding to go back to college and finish his degree.
At an age when most people are contemplating retirement, Thompson earned the first of numerous academic degrees. Through the process of earning a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and ultimately a doctorate, Thompson realized the power of setting goals and striving to reach them. But he also recognized that not all goals are created equal.
“Have you ever achieved a goal, but then didn’t experience that long-term sense of fulfillment you were expecting?” Thompson asks. “That happens when you set a goal that is not tied to a core value. When you set a goal that is tied to a core value, you have a greater chance of gaining lasting fulfillment, and it has the added benefit of affecting a whole lot more people than just yourself.”
Thompson wrote his inspirational and motivational autobiography, Kick Start, to encourage older adults who are approaching their golden years to seize their future with both hands.