EVERETT — Daniel Thompson had no idea Mike Trautman was stepping down.
Thompson spent the past nine seasons as an assistant coach for the Everett Community College men’s basketball team, the past seven as the lead assistant under Trautman. Together they helped build the Trojans into one of the top programs in the Northwest Athletic Conference. Yet the move surprised even him.
“It was a complete shock to me, just like everybody else,” Thompson admitted about Trautman stepping down in April to take a break from coaching.
Now the reins of what’s become the top community college athletic program in Snohomish County are being handed over to Thompson.
Everett decided to keep it in the family by hiring Thompson to succeed Trautman as the Trojans’ head men’s basketball coach.
“Man, it’s a surreal feeling,” Thompson said. “I’m definitely excited and can’t wait to get to work.”
Thompson, 35, was a key component in Everett’s rise to prominence. Over the past seven seasons the Trojans compiled a 142-52 record, won four North Region championships and advanced as far as the NWAC championship game this past March. During that time Thompson played an important role in helping create the team’s offense, led the team’s scouting and skill-development processes, and pioneered the team’s social-media presence.
“We had a lot of great applicants for this position,” Everett athletic director Garet Studer said in a press release. “I think people know that this is a good job in the NWAC and where a head coach can find success. Daniel has been a constant in the sustained success of the men’s basketball program for almost a decade, and we believe that the relationships he has built and the experience he has gained will help him successfully make the transition into the head coach role.”
Like Trautman, Thompson has Trojan red running through his veins. Thompson traveled the exact same path as Trautman, both playing (2006-09) and serving as an assistant coach (2014-16) under legendary Everett coach Larry Walker before becoming the top assistant when Trautman took over for Walker in 2016.
“This is a place where I went and played, the program changed the trajectory of my life,” Thompson said about why he pursued the head position. “I’m not sure I would have gotten my college degree (sports management from Washington State University) if it wasn’t for Everett CC basketball. The program means a lot to me, and I want to give back to a program that gave me so much.”
While Thompson didn’t know Trautman was planning on stepping down, Trautman quietly groomed Thompson for succession during the 2022-23 season.
“I kind of knew this whole year that it would be my last year, so maybe secretly I asked more of (Thompson) this year knowing there was a chance he’d have the opportunity to be the head coach after me,” Trautman said. “Maybe at times he felt, ‘Why is Traut having me do this?’ Dealing with things like travel and pregame meals and stuff like that. I kind of gave him more responsibility to get him more ready,
“His No. 1 strength is that he knows our culture,” Trautman added. “Our culture, which I 100% learned from Larry, is that we don’t coach knuckleheads. If a guy has too many red flags or too many issues with not being a good teammate or not being coachable or being a poor student, we pass on those kids. The biggest reason why we’ve had success is because we surrounded the program with good, quality people. I think that will be his strength, and it will be a big one because when you have good kids it’s a heck of a lot easier to figure out the basketball stuff.”
Indeed, Thompson isn’t planning a lot of change to the way the Trojans do things.
“We won a lot of games and I don’t want to change a whole lot,” Thompson said. “When it’s not broken, don’t fix it. From a strategic standpoint it will be very similar, an exciting brand of basketball where we push the ball up the floor and attack the basket. Off the floor I’d like to get into the community more, maybe get into the elementary schools and do some mentorships.”
Thompson inherits a team that went 25-8 and finished second in the North Region. The sophomore-heavy team went on a tear in the postseason, blowing past its first three NWAC tournament opponents before falling to Bellevue in the championship game. Thompson said he hopes to fill out the rest of the staff in the next couple weeks.