It’s hard to imagine a world where Sadie Thompson doesn’t play for the Lawrence County Red Devils.
After all, the star senior has been turning heads on the court in Moulton since she was in the seventh grade.
“It hasn’t quite hit me yet that I’ll never play here again,” said Thompson. “Everytime I come into the gym I keep thinking I’ll be here next year. This place, this game, has been a huge blessing to me.”
In her final year as a Red Devil, Thompson made sure it was memorable. The senior averaged 21 points per game while helping lead Lawrence County to a 19-3 record, a county championship and an area championship.
Because of this Thompson was chosen as the Moulton Advertiser’s county player of the year and the Decatur Daily’s 5A-7A girls player of the year.
Thompson joins a list of talented players from Lawrence County that have received that honor. Natasha Thomas was player of the year three years in a row, from 1998-2000. Brooke Hand won the honor in 2002, and then again in 2004. Most recently, Rachael Childress was awarded the honor, winning in 2016.
Unlike those players though, Thompson didn’t get the same program stability.
After leading the Red Devils to five final fours and three state titles in 27 years, Kenny Coffey stepped down after Thompson’s seventh grader. Brooke Hand, now Brooke Long, took over for two years before K.C. Orr stepped into the last three years.
Now instead of being the next star in a long line of players, Thompson had to be the mainstay in an ever-changing program.
“It was really hard mentally, on all of us not just me,” Thompson said. “There were days you’d come into practice just not wanting to be there, but it brought us closer together as a team and that helped us get through it.”
Resurrecting a program
When K.C. Orr took over prior to the 2018-19 season, the program was in shambles.
Gone were the days of Lawrence County’s dominance as changes had left the program with youth and inexperience at every turn.
Orr, a head coach now for the first time, knew rebuilding the program would take time.
“When I took over, I told myself that I still had a lot to learn and there were going to be a lot of coaches that knew way more than me,” Orr said. “But I knew what I could do was be 100% authentic and make sure these girls know that I care about them more than anything they did on the court.”
This year, three years after Orr, all of their hard work paid off leading to a 19-3 season.
Because of that, Orr was chosen as the Decatur Daily’s 5A-7A girls coach of the year.
“It still hasn’t settled it. There’s a lot of great coaches out there so to just be mentioned, let along be a recipient of this award, is very humbling,” Orr said. “I have a lot of respect for this game, and I know I still have a long way to go as a coach. Still, this is a surreal experience.”
A legacy left behind
The Lawrence County program has been set up for future success thanks to the work done by Orr and the Red Devils the past three seasons.
However, any success they achieve from now on will have to come without Thompson.
Thompson looks forward to watching the Red Devils continue to grow, and in the meantime she’s going to enjoy having her name next to greats like Thomas, Hand and Childress.
“To be able to have my name mentioned with those girls, it’s awesome. It doesn’t even seem real,” Thompson said. “All the glory goes to God. It’s been such a blessing from him.