Football equals entrepreneur?
Sports · September 07, 2017

West Branch resident Kelly Thomas sent an e-mail to school leaders and Head Football Coach Butch Pedersen about an interesting observation: Like her husband, many former Bears football players went into business for themselves.

In the Aug. 31 e-mail, Thomas explains that she and husband Michael came up with about 30 names and noted that many other football players entered family businesses. Thomas told the Times that she and Michael came up with this list in about 15 minutes and is sure that school staff could add to the list: Michael Thomas, Phil and Rob Rushton, Luke Jeffries, Michael Sexton, Gabe Waters, Wayne, Steve and Ryan Lynch (with sons Aaron and Pat), Neil and Kenny Hahn, Jerry and J.D. Sexton, Randy Robertson’s sons, Skylar Maxon, Ben Maxon, Roger Laughlin, Grant Jipp, Kevin Stout, Brett Stout, Chauncy Farmer, Kevin Stoolman, Dave Hosier, Steven Grace, Ryan Bowers and brother Bruce Barnhart, Dan Hobb, John Heirseman and Dick Maske.

“Last year I realized that there is a little phenomenon in West Branch,” Kelly wrote. “Entrepreneurship amongst male graduates ... I’m married to one, hence the interest, but I am also personally crazy about data especially related to personality and interests.”

She told the Times that starting a business is not so unusual, but the percentage of WBHS grads to do so seems high.

“(T)hese individuals, with the exception of only a few, work heavily in the service industry — jobs that require doing a lot heavy lifting, dealing with people and situations that are not always pleasant and phsycial labor,” she writes. “Maybe I’m crazy and this isn’t ‘unique’ but I definitely think it is worth bringing to your attention!”

Kelly adds to her note a disclaimer that “I realize there are females that have businesses in WB too ... but not over 30 (of them).”

Pedersen called the list “awesome.”

Superintendent Kevin Hatfield said the rate of entrepreneurship is “a real tribute to the district, our extra-curricular programming in general (so many were multiple activity people) our community and the football program specifically.”

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