A Day in the Life...of Me!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Please Pray....

**Please pray for a local hero who was taken by an unstable young man this morning. Coach Thomas was an inspiration for everyone who came in contact with him, he was an amazing coach, and a wonderful leader. I had the opportunity to listen to him speak a month ago. He was so inspirational. He had such strong faith. My heart is aching for his family, and the Aplington-Parkersburg community. Please send prayers their way. Article below (http://sports.espn.go.com/highschool/rise/football/news/story?id=4283443) is highlighting Coach Thomas' career and stating some facts about the shooter and the events that took place this morning.

Stop back and see me,


PARKERSBURG, Iowa -- Ed Thomas, who has produced four NFL linemen as the football coach at tiny Aplington-Parkersburg High, was shot and killed Wednesday inside the school's weight room, authorities said.

The gunman, identified by authorities as 24-year-old Mark Becker, shot Thomas multiple times just before 8 a.m. local time, authorities said. About 50 students were in the school, including several in the weight room, at the time. School was not in session, and no one else was injured in the attack.

Thomas, the 2005 NFL High School Football Coach of the Year, was airlifted to Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo, where he died, his family said in a statement. He was 58.

Ed Thomas

Ross Dettman for ESPN.com

Ed Thomas, pictured in 2008 beside the football field at Aplington-Parkersburg High, was shot and killed Wednesday at the school.

Becker, a former student and football player at the school, was arrested shortly after the shooting and charged with first-degree murder, authorities said. He is being held in Butler County jail.

The district's superintendent and a guidance counselor were meeting with students who were in the weight room at the time of the shooting.

"No kids were hurt, we're thankful for that," superintendent Jon Thompson told KOEL radio. "They did witness this and so we have counselors at the site to talk with the kids."

The school is in Parkersburg, about 80 miles northeast of Des Moines.

Aplington-Parkersburg is the alma mater of four current NFL players -- Casey Wiegmann of the Denver Broncos; Jared DeVries of the Detroit Lions; Brad Meester of the Jacksonville Jaguars; and Aaron Kampman of the Green Bay Packers. All played for Thomas.

DeVries, a defensive end, walked off the Lions' practice field in Allen Park, Mich., toward the end of morning practice, apparently shaken.

Team officials said DeVries was not immediately available for comment.

Thomas compiled a career record of 292-84 in 37 seasons as a head coach, 34 of them at Aplington-Parkersburg, and was one of the most well-known high school football coaches in Iowa.

Thomas made national headlines last year when he insisted that the high school's football field, named in his honor, be rebuilt as a way to help restore community pride in Parkersburg after it was hit by a powerful tornado in May 2008 that killed six people and destroyed the high school.

"A lot of people know coach Thomas for his success as a football coach, but a lot of people here locally know him as a person, as a dad and grandfather, and that's where our thoughts are right now, with Coach Thomas," Thompson said.

Looking back at Thomas

A vigil will be held at the field at 7 p.m. local time Wednesday, Thompson said. In case of rain, it will be moved to Aplington Middle School.

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, who was once a high school teacher and coach in Des Moines, said he was stunned by the shooting.

"As a former high school football coach, I've always had great admiration and respect for Coach Thomas," Culver said in a statement. "The state and national coaching fraternity has suffered a devastating loss. As we mourn the passing of Coach Thomas, it is my hope we can all continue to learn from his example."

Paul Rhoads, Iowa State's new football coach, said in a statement that Thomas was one of the first people to call him when he accepted the Cyclones job last December. Rhoads said Thomas was an Iowa coaching legend and "the best of people."

"His leadership set an example for us and his legacy will live on in the thousands of people he has touched in and out of the classroom and on and off the field," Rhoads said.

Toby Lorenzen, head coach at Central Lyon High School in Rock Rapids in northwest Iowa, said the killing was a shock to people in high school football programs throughout Iowa.

"He was one of the most down to earth, well-respected coaches around, Lorenzen said.

Richard Wulkow, executive director of the Iowa High School Athletic Association, said in a statement that Thomas embodied what a coach should be.

"He will be forever remembered not so much for his many wins on the field, but for the exemplary manner in which he coached kids and led the Aplington-Parkersburg community and school. This was especially true last spring and summer as they rebuilt from a devastating tornado," Wulkow said.

In 2005, a Texas high school football coach was shot by an angry parent who walked into the school fieldhouse and fired a single bullet into Gary Joe Kinne's stomach. The gunman's son played on the Canton High School football team with Kinne's son, who was the star quarterback.

Kinne survived. The shooter, Jeff Doyal Robertson, was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


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