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Becoming a Jimmie – Kade Thompson

Kade Thompson holding a fish he caught.

Five years ago, if someone had told me that I’d be packing up everything and moving to the Great White North for college, I never would have believed them.

After high school, I had little, if any, interest in attending college. My plans changed in July of 2015. I was working construction that summer and lacking a sense of fulfillment; I had no idea what the next step was going to be.

Taking a leap of faith

One morning, I was insulating a roof, and I got a text message offering me a scholarship to come to UJ and wrestle. I was a little nervous about this decision—I had never been that far from Idaho Falls, ID, before, and all I knew about North Dakota was that the winters are harsh. But, I didn’t think I’d get another chance like this, so I quit my job and took a leap of faith.

I felt very excited and terrified the entire drive out here. I was the first of three boys to move out of the house, one of only a few family members to go to college, and the first college athlete in my family. I had absolutely no idea where I was going or what I was doing.

As soon as I arrived, I was blown away, not just by the wind, but by the town and the people in it. I loved the small town everybody-knows-everybody environment that UJ creates. Within minutes of meeting a couple of teammates, we were already planning weekend fishing trips.

Throughout the years, I’ve met wonderful people and had great times hunting and fishing with current students and alumni.

Black lab sitting on a tailgate with about 20 shot ducks.

From Teammates to Friends

The opportunity to continue wrestling has been the greatest blessing I ever could have asked for. I’ve had several training partners over the years, and I often think of them as brothers rather than teammates. There’s a certain bond that’s built by spending hours each day beating up on each other. And we don’t just train together; I’ve taken several of them fishing or shooting for the first time, and I still keep in touch with those who have graduated.

One of my greatest memories at UJ was this last duck season when a teammate and alum, Jackson Schauer, was visiting with his family. His family took me and another teammate duck hunting for a weekend. There were seven of us total, and we killed more than one hundred birds over a three-day period. Being a part of this team has pushed me to improve as a wrestler every day and introduced me to the greatest people that I’ve ever known.

Choosing a Major

I didn’t declare a major until my sophomore year. I threw myself into a bunch of classes as a freshman, but spent more time fishing than I did studying. When the time came, I chose two majors: Biology and Spanish.

Kade Thompson, in a boat, with a large fish on his lap.

I started that year off feeling very arrogant, because I passed all my classes as a freshman and was the varsity wrestler at 165—that is until I showed up to General Chemistry, and I got humbled right away. Realizing that my professors were going to demand the best from me put into perspective how much I had to learn and mature in order to reach my goals. My professors have pushed me and believed in me over the years, which has led to me winning two scholarships for my research in Jamestown and Churchill, Manitoba.

Looking Back

Five years ago, I had no idea what the future would hold for me, and my experience as a Jimmie has been like drinking from a firehose. I’ve gained an excellent education, had a great wrestling career, met wonderful people, and caught a lot of fish in the process. Being a Jimmie has been nothing short of an extraordinary experience, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Posted:February 14, 2020


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