Bill Thompson was a pioneer in women’s basketball.
Thomson was born in Windsor on August 18, 1925.
Always passionate about the game of basketball, Thompson played for Sandwich Collegiate Institute (later known as Forster Secondary School), the University of Western Ontario, and Assumption College, where his coach was Red Nantais. After university, Thompson played in a Senior Detroit league and in the Windsor and District league. He didn’t retire from the game until the age of 70.
Thompson’s coaching career began in 1952, when his wife asked him to coach a group of former Sandwich Collegiate girls for weekly scrimmages at Benson Public School. Thompson taught the girls to play according to men’s rules. Before Thompson’s involvement, the team had captured seven titles over a ten-year span as the Sandwich Alumni. Previously, their coaches included Helen Gurney, herself a Windsor/Essex County Sports Hall of Fame member, and Gladys Munnings.
Thomson ended up coaching the group, including many eventual newcomers, for twenty-five years. The team played under various names, including Sandwich Aces, Windsor Sportland, and N&D Yorktowns. The Sportland Aces captured the Women’s All-Ontario Intermediate “A” titles in 1957-58, ’58-59, and ’59-60.
Eventually, the team moved on to Senior competition under the sponsorship of the N&D grocery chain. In squad won the 1964 CABA Senior “B” Championship. In ’67, Thompson’s women took the OLBA Senior “B” Championship and the Eastern Canadian Amateur Basketball Association Senior “B” Championship.
In 1971, Thompson coached the Ontario team at the Canada Winter Games in Saskatoon. The team played seven games in six days and won the national title by defeating British Columbia by four points in the decider.
In 1979, Thompson played an instrumental role in founding the Ontario Ladies Master’s Basketball League. Club 240 sponsored the Windsor team, which won the initial tournament. In 1989, 12 teams participated.
Although he formally retired from the game in 1995, Bill Thompson’s love of basketball continued until his death on August 11, 2009.