By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
When Rico Thompson recalled playing basketball for Woodrow WIlson from 2003 until 2005, he remembered the words head coach Ron Kidd told him.
“He would always tell us that it was Beckley basketball and it’s the City of Champions,” Rico said. “We should always be proud we’re representing the city and the community and all those who played before us. It’s for yourself, it’s for the whole city of Beckley and those who came before me.”
Now Kidd is likely telling his current players of Rico, his brother Mario and Chase Dewese. That trio will be inducted into the Beckley Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, Feb. 7 when the Flying Eagles welcome Cabell Midland to the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
“It’s an honor,” Mario said. “It’s really a great experience to even be considered for the Hall of Fame.”
The trio of Flying Eagles were part of the 2004 state championship team, who defeated Hedgesville 49-41 and then made another trip to the championship game a year later, losing to Huntington.
“It means a whole lot,” Rico said. “Especially to go in with all the great players that came through and played for Woodrow. I can’t say it’s a dream come true, because I never thought I’d make it to that point. It’s an honor and a blessing.”
Rico graduated in 2005 and went on to have a three year career at Bluefield State College.
Despite his college accomplishments, it’s going into the hall of fame with his brother and Dewese that means the most to him.
“I’ve been playing basketball with Chase since I was in fifth grade,” he recalled. “And then of course my brother. I’ve been playing with him since I first got a basketball in my hands. I wouldn’t rather go in with anybody than them.”
Mario followed in his older brother’s footsteps to one day wear the maroon and white. And much like Rico, Mario can still remember words coach Kidd gave him that he’s carried with him from his first day on the court to his current career as an Airman First Class in the United States Air Force.
“Hard work pays off,” Mario said. “He always told us that. No matter what you do, you’re going to have positive.”
Mario and Dewese made up part of the first freshman class to come through the hallowed halls of Woodrow basketball, setting the stage for future generations to do the same thing. They were also the first freshmen to play varsity.
“There were guys that were a little older than us that really took us under their wing,” Dewese recalled. “Guys like Jason Slay and those guys were seniors. We all got along great.”
Dewese, currently attending the Charlotte School of Law, entering the Hall of Fame is a dream come true, seeing his name among legends like Bane Sarrett, Tamar Slay and Gene Names.
“I remember walking through the Armory growing up and seeing all those names on the wall,” he said. “I asked my dad if he thought I would ever get my name up there. He told me if I worked hard enough.”
And now, that hard work has paid off and the trio of Flying Eagles will now be soaring for eternity in the highest fraternity a Woodrow basketball player could have.
“It’s just like a family,” Rico said.
— E-mail: jrollins
@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.