Being a college football player is no easy task, but being a college football player while also tackling a pharmaceutical degree is a big challenge. Bulldog senior tight end and Illinois native Kyle Thompson knows exactly how that pharmacy and football life feels. Currently in his fifth year as a Bulldog with two years left to go in the pharmacy program, Thompson is officially done on the gridiron and fully focused on moving to Grand Rapids, where he will finish his last two years of pharmacy school.
Before Thompson began his journey with Ferris State, majoring in pharmacy hadn’t crossed his mind.
“I had never given anything in the medical field much thought, as I was set on doing something in the sports world, like sports management,” Thompson said. “I first knew I wanted to go into pharmacy after I committed here to play football during my senior year of high school.”
Thompson’s uncle, Michael Eesley, is the CEO of Centegra Health System in Illinois and a Ferris alum who received a Bachelor of Science in hospital administration in 1978. Eesley hooked Thompson up with a pharmacy job shadow at a hospital in Chicago, and ever since then, Thompson knew that going into pharmacy would be the right move for him.
Along with his uncle, Thompson’s mother, grandmother and some of his cousins work or have worked in the medical field. Thompson is the first one in the family to do his medical schooling while being part of a college football organization.
“It was really rough, there was never any free time,” Thompson said. “I would have film at 7 a.m. for football, then go to classes, then to practice, then more classes, and then a workout. After all that, I’d have to go home and study for the rest of the night.”
Though it wasn’t easy, Thompson said that having to balance both pharmacy school and football made him more disciplined. He had no choice but to go straight from class or practice to home just to get that precious study time in.
“When I first got in to pharmacy school, Coach Annese told me that my career was my first priority and that I needed to take care of my schooling first,” Thompson said. “For example, last semester I didn’t go to practice on Wednesdays because it was during one of my pharm classes.”
With only three football practices a week, Thompson knew that it was a big deal for him to miss a practice, but he appreciated the support from the coaching staff.
“Whenever I’d miss Fridays because the football team was on the road, my professors were always understanding, whether I had to make up a test or if I needed to be filled in with anything that I missed,” Thompson said. “There are many more people that helped me along the way, and I would have never made it to where I am today without their support.”
Shifting his focus from blocking schemes and route-running to his career, Thompson hopes to be a pharmacist in a hospital because of the community environment with plenty of patient interaction.