Thompson alumni celebrate 20 years

Published 10:47 am Monday, October 5, 2009

Though some had not returned to Shelby County for nearly 20 years, a group of about 90 Thompson High School alumni Oct. 2 cheered as if they had not been gone a day.

The Thompson High School class of 1989 celebrated their 20th reunion by gathering and cheering at what some alumni described as the “Iron Bowl of high school football.

“It was a huge rivalry back then, just like it is now,” said Michael Pegusky, a member of the 1989 class who still lives in Alabaster. “It’s just like the Bama-Auburn game.

There’s no friendship there,” Pegusky laughed.

Every year, neighboring rivals Thompson and Pelham meet on the gridiron to fight for the Battle for U.S. 31 trophy. And while Pelham has bested the Alabaster school many times in recent years, the group of alumni said they remember a different scenario in the 1980s.

“I just remember it being a really big rivalry every year,” said Patrick Threatt, a Charlotte, N.C., resident who played football at Thompson and at North Carolina State University.

“But they never beat us when we were in school here,” Threatt added. “It’s great to come out and be back with all the people I graduated with.”

As more and more Thompson alumni arrived at Larry Simmons Stadium many immediately seemed shocked to be sitting on the bleachers opposite the press box.

“This is actually this class’s first time on this side,” said Michelle Holdbrooks, a Thompson alumni and current teacher at the school. “When we were here, this was the visitor side. We sat over there under the press box.

“But it’s good to have everyone back, and everyone so far has been having a very good time,” Holdbrooks added. “I’d say about 60 or 70 percent of the people here haven’t been back to Alabaster in a long time. And some have come from as far away as California to be here today.”

In addition to the bleacher shuffle, some of the alumni also expressed shock over Alabaster’s growth over the past two decades.

“This whole area has changed a lot since we were here,” said Clanton resident Wendy Coats. “It’s probably been about 15 years since I’ve been up here. The football atmosphere is a lot bigger tonight, and a little bit wilder.”

“Alabaster really has changed a lot over the years,” Threatt said. “It definitely doesn’t look like it used to.”