For years, Bobby Thompson was the quietest Rock Hill Bearcats football fan ever.
He went to practices, often standing alone, watching so he could concentrate on what was happening. He could tell you each player's practice and game numbers. He could pick out a player by his size and by the way he walked.
On game nights, he and his adoring wife, Norma, would jump in the car and sit in the same spot at home games. Away games? No problem. Leave a little early and stake out good seats on the visitors' side.
And when Thompson passed away last June 22, he was still a quiet man, but had become a well-known favorite to the players, coaching staff and fans.
Thompson, who had a Bearcats wall at home, fought cancer until he couldn't any more. He said during an interview the cancer was tough, but he didn't let it dominate his life or thoughts.
Whenever he would take a spin with Norma in the Camaro convertible she bought him, Thompson had a routine that never wavered.
"I'd have the top down and ride by District Three Stadium," he said that day. "While passing by, I'd look at the sky and ask, 'Lord, please let me make it at least one more season.'"
Thompson approached Bearcats football coach Joe Montgomery a couple of years ago and asked if there was anything he could help with to stay busy. Montgomery made Thompson the manager in charge of making sure the correct type and amount of equipment was on hand at games. He was the "coach" who fixed helmets that needed screws and worked on any equipment that could be fixed.
Thompson didn't play football at Rock Hill and now he was finally a member of his beloved team. As the coaches dressed, so did Thompson. Caps, shirts, jackets, pants and shoes. He said it was one of the best things that had happened to him.
Tonight between the first and second quarters of Rock Hill's homecoming game against Clover, Thompson's family will be recognized on the field by posters representing the Palmetto Football Talk website.
For his passion for Rock Hill Bearcat football, and his inspiration to his online community, the members of the popular site will present a check and a plaque to Norma. The check is a donation to go to one of Bobby Thompson's passions, his church. The plaque has the online signatures of 65 fans from 23 schools across the state and recognizes him as the site's 2011 Poster of the Year.
The plaque reads:
"For commitment and dedication to excellence while Supporting the Rock Hill Bearcats, Robert Andrew Thompson, also known as RHHS1981, has been unanimously elected Palmetto Football Talk's 2011 Poster of the Year by the undersigned members."
Just like Bobby Thompson, may we live life passionately, support our school passionately, and be an inspiration to many. Thank you.