Edward Arthur Thomas

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Edward Arthur Thomas[1] (July 17, 1950 – June 24, 2009) was an American high school football coach. On June 24, 2009, Thomas was shot and killed in his Parkersburg, Iowa football team's weight room by Mark Becker, one of Thomas' former players.[2] Thomas was airlifted to a Waterloo, Iowa hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.[3]

Early life[edit]

Ed Thomas was born to Authrine and Roy Thomas in 1950.[4] He was born in Oskaloosa, Iowa and raised in What Cheer, Iowa. He played football; his position was quarterback. Thomas was the oldest of 5, having 3 younger sisters and one younger brother. He graduated from Tri-County High School in Thornburg, Iowa in 1968 and obtained degrees from William Penn College and the University of Northern Iowa.[4]


Thomas coached for 37 years in the "IAHSAA" (Iowa High School Athletic Association) football program; winning two state titles and a total of 292 games.[IHSAA 1] He is credited with having coached four NFL players, which include Aaron Kampman, Brad Meester, Jared DeVries, and Casey Wiegmann. In 2005, Thomas won the prestigious NFL High School Coach of the Year award.[5] Landon Schrage was signed in 2006 as a long snapper for the Baltimore Ravens, making him the 5th player under Coach Thomas to reach the NFL.


Ed Thomas was murdered on June 24, 2009, by Mark Becker, a mentally ill former player who had been released from a Waterloo Hospital less than 24 hours prior to the shooting. Thomas was in a room with 20 football and volleyball players, many of whom testified at the trial of Mark Becker. Ed Thomas was shot 6 or 7 times according to the medical examiner. He also suffered blunt force injuries to his head, chest and legs, which were caused by being stomped on after being shot.


The night of his death, 2,500 mourners gathered for a candlelight vigil. He was featured on the July 6, 2009 cover of Sports Illustrated. On August 28, 2009, the national cable network, ESPN, televised his high school's first football game of the year in memory of Coach Thomas.[6]

On March 2, 2010, a Butler County jury convicted Becker of first-degree murder in connection with Thomas' death. Following a trial that had started February 12 in Allison, the jury received the case on Wednesday, February 24; the jury had reached two stalemates prior to arriving at their verdict. Testimony in the trial focused on Becker's mental state at the time of the shooting. On April 14, 2010, Becker received a life sentence for his conviction of first-degree murder.[7]

Members of Thomas' family have approached the Iowa Legislature to consider legislation requiring hospital personnel to notify law enforcement before releasing a psychiatric patient facing criminal charges. On March 24, 2010, the Ed Thomas Bill was passed.[8]

Thomas (deceased); was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2010 ESPY Awards.[9] On August 16, 2011, Zondervan released The Sacred Acre: The Ed Thomas Story, a book authored by the Thomas family and Mark Tabb; that tells the story of Thomas' role in the town's recovery after the 2008 tornado, and the details of his murder.[10]


IHSAA Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Iowa All-Time Football Coaching Leaders" (PDF). Iowa High School Athletic Association. Retrieved November 9, 2013.

Other references[edit]

  1. ^ "Edward Arthur Thomas, 58, Parkersburg". The Daily Freeman Journal. 25 June 2009. Archived from the original on 2014-01-16. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  2. ^ Goldman, Tom. "Emotional Game Honors Slain Coach In Iowa". npr.org. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
  3. ^ "Ed Thomas shot, killed inside school". ESPN. June 25, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
  4. ^ a b "2,500 give final salute to coach Ed Thomas". Des Moines Register. 10 February 2010. Archived from the original on 15 January 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  5. ^ "E:60 Heartland". May 20, 2010. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
  6. ^ "Team To Play First Game After Coach's Murder". KCCI Iowa News Channel 8. August 28, 2009. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved 2009-09-16.
  7. ^ Schulte, Grant (14 April 2013). "Mark Becker sentenced to life". Des Moines Register. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  8. ^ Lynch, James Q. (2 March 2010). "Son of Coach Thomas asks for hospital-release notification law". Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
  9. ^ "Aaron Thomas personifies courage". ESPN. July 14, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-14.
  10. ^ "The Sacred Acre". Retrieved 8 November 2011.