July 7, 2005

Enjoying The Aches Of Competition

July 7, 2005

By Aaron Juarez
Athletic Media Relations

It's nothing out of the ordinary these days to hear of a ballplayer lauded for continuing to take the field and perform at their highest level even through the most minor of injuries. Although in the case of junior Michael Thompson, those everyday aches and pains are a welcome alternative to what he has had to work through to continue taking the field.

Nearly halfway through the 2004 season, Thompson found himself suffering from unusually strong bouts of fatigue. Following the discovery of a lump on his neck, which resulted in Thompson having to undergo a biopsy and a battery of tests, he was diagnosed in late April with Hodgkin's disease.

"My first thought [after the diagnosis] was actually whether I'd be able to finish the season," Thompson said. "Leading up to this I had researched the disease and knew that whatever this was we had caught it early, so I was confident that I would be able to come back from this. My biggest concern was if I would be able to continue playing baseball."

He began his chemotherapy treatments in mid-May, and after a hearty yet failed attempt to continue playing following his first session, was forced to sit out the final five games of the season. Yet despite battling the fatigue and early symptoms throughout the season, Thompson still managed to start 51 of the Broncos' 56 games, hit .321 with three homers and 33 RBI and earn Second-Team All-WCC honors.

Thompson's chemotherapy sessions lasted until late August, plus three more weeks of radiation treatment. Yet even in the toughest of times, Thompson found that in addition to his own family in Mission Viejo, he also had his Santa Clara baseball family to turn to for support and encouragement.

"My family was great, but sometimes you need more than your family," Thompson said. "Your family will always be there for you, but it was nice and meant a great deal to me that I had my coaches and teammates that I could talk to on a weekly basis. They were there for me whenever I needed them."

On the power of not only the support he received but also his own indomitable spirit, Thompson returned to the diamond in 2005. He started 50 of the Broncos' 56 games, batting .261 and leading the team in doubles (20) and RBI (38) while finishing second with six home runs.

"This whole experience has put everything into a new perspective for me," Thompson reflected. "I was a healthy young man, never had a surgery or anything, but then this came up out of nowhere. I keep telling myself that I can't take things for granted anymore, I just have to play every game like its my last."

Thompson is keeping his dream of playing in the majors alive as he is was selected by the Houston Astros in the professional draft and is currently playing for the Tri-City (N.Y.) ValleyCats in the New York-Penn League.