The history of Thomson’s first integrated football team represents what “One Thomson” is

THOMSON, Ga. (WJBF) – Thomson High School is all about its history and a big part of its history is football.

“I think it’s extremely important, because I’m a history scholar, I’m a history teacher, and so this tradition is strong. There are other teams that have the same kind of tradition as us, but we think ours is special,” said former coach and author John Barnett.

Recently, the phrase “One Thomson” was created to help bring people of all races and genders together in the community. To better understand what this means, we went back to 1967 when Thomson formed its first integrated football team.

“When we first heard that Mac Bowman was coming it was different, sure, but we were so focused as a community on what we thought was a really good team, I don’t remember anyone talking about it. talked about. Now I was only 10. It wasn’t something that people were talking about all the time and ‘what are we going to do when we get that first black player’, this, that and the other; it was all about what we had coming back because we lost a game the year before to the team that easily won the state championship so we’re kind of looking forward to winning the first ever state championship. ‘state at Thomson High School and that was more the goal,’ Barnett said.

“It was one of the best times of my life. A tough time because there was so much change going on at Thomson High. From a community perspective, we haven’t had a lot of real upheaval happening. are produced in a lot of places, but again, it was new and different for me and for the students at Thomson High who hadn’t been in a class with me or any other African American so there were adjustments on both sides. Thomson has a plethora of really good people and that was present on all sides. So there was no entry into Thomson High where there were thrown things or thrown or whatever,” Dr. Mac Bowman said.

Andy Knox was also playing on the team when Bowman arrived.

“I look back on that and for me it was another season. I don’t remember any particular disruption. Of course Mac was the forerunner of that integration effort. He came in and he was there. ‘one of the guys,’ Knox said.

Mac Bowman and Andy Knox become good friends and they remain friends to this day.

“He always hugged me and was very supportive and to this day he’s one of the guys I watch and played with, he’s one of my best friends,” said Bowman. Mac and Andy’s friendship represents what “One Thomson” is all about and their relationship goes beyond race.

“You look at these things, the essence, the core of an individual. It goes far beyond the superficialities of color or hair, or if you don’t have hair. This is life as it is. she really should be, should be all the time, but I think in successful relationships, that’s what happens,” Bowman said.

Now the folks at Thomson are hoping everyone gets together again.

“Historically, nothing happens at Thomson that brings the whole community together like high school football does,” Knox said.

The two friends hope their story will inspire others.

“I tell people all the time that I live in Augusta, but make no mistake, I’m from Thomson. It’s a source of pride for me because of what the city has meant to me and my family. From the time we moved there in the early 60’s there was nothing but a welcoming community. There are great people in Thomson, Georgia, and like I said, it’s not a perfect city, but it’s a really, really good place to live,” Bowman said.

As a bonus, Coach Barnett let us know the meaning of the phrase ‘Ghost’s of the Brickyard’, which is the title of his book which covers the history of Thomson Football.

About Betty J. Snyder

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