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Retired NFL Player Shares Inspiring Message

Retired NFL Player Shares Inspiring Message
Written by Marketing & Communications EPIC intern Katie Berthoud '25

On Friday, April 12, Darrell Thompson spoke to Benilde-St. Margaret's students during homeroom, sharing his journey to success. Thompson, a retired NFL player, has learned a lot about who he is as a person through football, but also through various volunteer experiences, centering the mantra “kindness matters” in all aspects of life. 

Growing up in Rochester, Minnesota, Thompson played three sports at John Marshall High School including track, basketball, and football. Thompson was a standout athlete in everything he competed in. Named All-State in track and field, McDonald’s All-American in basketball, and Gatorade All-American in football, his competitive spirit was out of the ordinary. Thompson’s parents were both extremely athletic and instilled in him a very competitive spirit at an early age. Embracing service and kindness, Thompson’s family consistently hosted young men from the Rochester Better Chance Foundation, a tradition he continues with his family today. 

Thompson received numerous D1 football scholarships from highly ranked schools including the University of Nebraska, the University of Iowa, and the University of California Los Angeles, though he eventually committed to the University of Minnesota. His coach, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, taught him to believe in himself and helped greatly in building up his confidence as both a player and a person. Learning the significance of balance greatly helped Thompson during his collegiate career as he believed he got better at his sport when he took time away to fulfill other parts of his life. “Once you learn about balance, you learn the importance of getting involved in the community around you,” shared Thompson. 

Following his junior year of college, Thompson realized his dream of becoming a professional football player could become his reality, and he became motivated to get stronger and better. Thompson was drafted to the Green Bay Packers, where he played alongside his role models growing up. The NFL journey taught Thompson many lessons, including believing in himself, using frustration as motivation, and pushing himself to be the best person he can be. 

Married to Stephanie Smith with four children, all of whom pursued D1 athletics in college, Thompson is now President of Bolder Options, a youth mentoring program that is aimed at providing kids with activities, engagement in the community, curriculum, and goal setting. When asked the biggest piece of advice he could share with younger athletes, he shared, “Real leaders listen, be kind, give as many smiles away as possible, and get involved in your community.” 

Thompson’s message resonated with junior football player Tommy Staples ‘25, who found inspiration in his journey. “Thompson’s story of how he got to the NFL through pushing himself was super cool to hear and shows that you can achieve anything if you put in the work,” said Staples.

Thompson stands as both an inspiration and resource for BSM students, and his visit left a lasting impact, encouraging students to get involved with his organization Bolder Options. We’re proud to have hosted Thompson, whose story continues to inspire and uplift students.

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About Benilde-St. Margaret's School
Benilde-St. Margaret's (BSM) is a Catholic, co-educational private prep school for grades 7–12 located in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, that draws its over one thousand students from throughout the Twin Cities Metro Area. It is located in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

The mission of BSM is to educate, empower, and inspire learners within a Catholic community to lead lives of faith, achieve academic excellence, and contribute meaningfully to a global society.

Please contact the BSM Marketing and Communications team

BSM Office of  Communications

David Lucs, Director
(Media, News Releases) 

Ife Adebola, Specialist
(Social Media, Knightly News, Photography/Video) 

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