Last January, the ABO School Board announced that R. Orion Thompson had been selected as the district’s next superintendent, replacing Kevin Pickner who retired June 30. “I want to do a great job, and I want to find out what that job is – if it’s driving the school bus or being a line judge for volleyball because we need one, then great, that’s the role I’ll fill,” said Thompson “I look forward to finding out what the 360 degrees of the position is.”
Thompson grew up in Howard, SD, and followed a basketball trajectory to becoming a school administrator. “I went to Sioux Falls College for basketball, and then played overseas for two years,” said Thompson. Internationally, he played for teams in Holland, China and Iran.
Deciding he had “traveled enough,” Thompson took a teaching position in Salinas, CA. “I taught high school math for a year.”
Returning to South Dakota, he attended SDSU in pursuit of a Master’s Degree in School Administration. “I wanted to be an Athletics Director,” said Thompson.
He worked as a graduate assistant in SDSU’s basketball program under Coach Scott Nagy, and then became a college coach himself. “I coached Men’s Basketball and Women’s and Men’s Golf at Huron College.” Had the college not closed in 2005, Thompson says “we never would have left Huron,” the family so enjoyed the community.
He continued college coaching at Dakota State University in Madison before being pulled to the Black Hills and a position teaching and coaching basketball in Sturgis. “I’ve always liked the Hills and it was a chance to be there,” said Thompson of the opportunity.
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