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Thomson helps players score in baseball, life
Sierra High baseball coach Jack Thomson. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Jack Thomson never had to think twice about the career path he was going to take.

For as long as he can remember, Thomson – the man responsible for guiding Sierra High’s baseball program since its inception – knew that he wanted to go into education and that he wanted to be a coach.

And even though he now has more than three decades under his belt as an educator and a coach, he still enjoys the little things that make the game what it is and doing his best to exert a positive influence on the young men that come up through the ranks of Sierra High School baseball.

“I love doing this for the reward of seeing my players succeed,” he said. “Players like Robert Perkins that got drafted and played professional baseball for a few years and then got hurt – now he’s in his third year of medical school.

“Sometimes athletes come in as freshmen and they aren’t necessarily coming from the most stable places, so if there’s anything I can do in order to help make them be better people, I’m willing to do that.”

After graduating from Manteca High, Thomson headed south to San Diego State to earn his degree in business. He returned to the area to receive his business credential – not knowing that he would get his start in the coaching ranks almost immediately.

With a stint at a Southern California high school already under his belt, Thomson took a teaching position at Manteca High and ended up coaching the sophomores at Oakdale before a position closer to home opened up.

Once he had the opportunity to come over to what was then Manteca Unified’s newest high school campus – and essentially a build a program with his vision from scratch – he jumped at the opportunity.

With a focus on taking care of the little things, Thomson wasted no time in turning Sierra from a junior-only varsity program into a perennial powerhouse – igniting an intracity rivalry with East Union that brought out fans en masse to see who would claim the Valley Oak League crown that year.

But, he said, everything starts at the beginning.

“I think that doing the prep work is important, and that’s something that I look forward to doing,” he said. “I like working with players and high school students, and hopefully leaving something with them that they can take on.”

And Perkins wasn’t the only player that Thomson had that played baseball professionally.

Just recently star outfielder Matt Berezay turned down a big league offer out of high school to play with the University of the Pacific Tigers – eventually signing after spending several seasons in Stockton.

And from his Manteca High days, catcher Ken Huckaby – a journeyman catcher that spent time with seven different teams – made a significant and historical impact when during the 2003 season opener the Blue Jay catcher held his ground at the plate and drew a collision with Derek Jeter, injuring his shoulder and shortening his season tremendously.

Thomson’s successes, however, go further than just getting the most out of his players on the field.

Last year the California Interscholastic Federation named him the Model Coach of the Year for the way he conducts himself around his players, the way he carries himself around the game, and the way he exemplifies the tradition of sportsmanship that youth athletics are supposed to promote.

“It was exciting when I learned that I was getting that award,” he said. “It made me feel like we’re out here trying to do things right – it’s not all about showing a kid how to field a ground ball or how to hit a breaking pitch.”

When he isn’t in the dugout or on the diamond, Thomson is usually spending time with his family – which consists of wife Paula and sons John, Scott, and Travis – fly-fishing, or golfing.